A Speeding Mass Of Space Junk Orbiting Earth.
Aerospace Corporation says its Brane Craft will wrap itself around debris orbiting Earth and drag it back down through the atmosphere, causing it to burn up and never again threaten satellites or astronauts. The project recently received a second round of funding from the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program, which funds far-out ideas that remain years away from launch — if they get there at all. The Brane Craft is a yard across, flexible, and less than half the thickness of a human hair. This makes it difficult to protect the spacecraft’s electronics from radiation, or even micrometeorites. “It has to be bullet-proof, because a 5-micron diameter particle can penetrate the main structural sheet, which is only 10 microns thick,” Siegfried Janson, principal investigator and a senior scientist at Aerospace Corporation, said. So the company, based in El Segundo, California, has designed the spacecraft to be resilient. If one solar cell is whacked by a micrometeorite, only that cell will fail. Same goes for the craft’s microprocessor and digital electronics — if one fails, others will keep working. Even the propellant tank, which is sandwiched between two thin sheets, is split into multiple segments. In the case of a micrometeorite strike or an electrical short, other segments are designed to remain operable. Credit: Space.Com.
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