Japan launches ‘Space Junk’ collector

Japan has launched a cargo ship carrying a ‘space junk’ collector made with the help of a fishnet company to the International Space Station (ISS). The cargo ship will carry space junk collector and other materials like batteries and drinking water for the astronauts living on the International Space Station (ISS). A capsule named Kounotori or white stork contains nearly 5 tons of food, water and other supplies, including six new lithium-ion batteries for the station’s solar power system. This is Japan’s sixth shipment to the ISS. The cargo ship was launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.

Scientists at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) along with Japanese fishnet manufacturer Nitto Seimo is experimenting with a tether to pull junk out of orbit from around Earth. The so-called electrodynamic tether made from thin wires of stainless steel and aluminium will generate electricity when it swings through the Earth’s magnetic field. This is likely to cause a slowing effect on the space junk which will inturn pull the junks into a lower orbit. Eventually, the detritus will get burned up harmlessly upon entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

Around 50 years of human space exploration beginning with the launch of Sputnik satellite in 1957 has resulted in the production of a hazardous belt of orbiting debris. It is estimated that more than 100 million pieces of space junk are currently present in the orbit, which can cause severe damage to the working equipment.

Orbital debris is the man made junk scattered in the space around the earth. Earth’s gravity traps these manmade objects and particles into orbiting (revolving) around it. Space junk, such as fuel tanks, lost tools and parts of derelict satellites has rapidly become a major problem in recent times.

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