ADEO, a new ESA system for space debris

Space junk is a big problem. Just a few days ago we told you about the latest incident (for now), with two objects from the extinct Soviet Union (a satellite and a launch phase). they were very, very close to colliding with each other. It may seem that this is not a problem, since both objects are out of order, but said collision could have generated thousands of fragments of garbage in orbit, fragments that can cause accidents like the one suffered a few months ago by the Soyuz spacecraft that is anchored to the International Space Station and which was not only the return vehicle for three of the seven astronauts currently on the ISS, it was also their lifeboat if an emergency evacuation was necessary.

This, as we have already told on previous occasions, is not something new. Researchers around the world have been warning about this risk for decades and, as low orbit has begun to be populated, possible plans for its withdrawal have begun to be studied. The problem is that all the means tested so far have been discarded, either because they did not work or because the economic cost of putting them into operation was unaffordable, not just for a country, but even for international consortia.

So that, the scientific community continues to rack its brains in search and capture of a solution that allows, finally, to start removing as much of said space junk as possible. At this point it is important to remember that when we talk about space debris we are referring to satellites and launch phases, but also to much smaller pieces and fragments, some so tiny that seen in the hand they would seem harmless, but when orbiting they move to such a speed that can be lethal.

The European Space Agency has already studied other plans to attack this problem in the past, but of all the options seen so far, it seems that we are now facing the most promising in all respects. I speak of ADEO, a new ESA system that proposes to end space debris using sails. I eat? In a very, very simple explanation, the idea is that when a satellite or other object ceases to be in service, a sail is deployed in front of it, crossing its path. In this way, greater friction will be generated by the set of sail and object, which in turn will cause its orbit to decline, causing it to finally fall into the atmosphere, to end up calcined in it.

The most interesting thing is that ADEO has already been tested by the European Space Agency and the results, at this point, are truly satisfactory, although for the moment it has been tested with small elements and sails, specifically with a version capable of stopping objects with a mass of up to 100 kilograms. However, the agency affirms that sails of up to one hundred square meters may be used, so they will be able to slow down and precipitate the fall of large objects.

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