The space around our planet is becoming increasingly littered with debris, from broken pieces of satellites to various pieces of rockets being sent into space. The presence of this debris threatens space exploration and research, the International Space Station as well as the Hubble Space Telescope. So we need an efficient plan to get rid of space debris.
One of the reasons space debris is so difficult to clean is that it often moves at very high speeds. Also, these objects are often complex pieces with strange shapes that are not easy to grasp. Some of the proposed solutions include using mesh-like nets to catch large chunks of garbage, but researchers at the University of Utah found that a different approach could be used using magnets.
Jake J. Abbott, lead author this study “We have to take the waste left in nature and then put it in a position where it can be operated with the help of a robotic arm,” he said in a statement. “But if these objects get out of control, the robotic arm will break, which will only generate more waste.”
Using rotating magnets, robots can push debris down the circuit. In this section, garbage either burns or goes to outer space and infinity, which is safer and faster than trying to grab them.
Now it’s time for metal but non-magnetic parts. The team has also found a way for these pieces. By applying a variable magnetic field, they rotate the electrons inside the metals, causing the piece of metal to become a magnet.
This approach could in the future be used by space cleaning robots to clean fragile parts. As the amount of space debris increases, NASA tracks debris in the same way it tracks aircraft air traffic control. Knowing where these parts are located can make them easier to remove. The US government and other space actors are aware of the problem that the increase in waste is a threat to human life.