What floats 249 miles in the sky, stretches 2,300 feet, and took over 10 years to develop?
An anonymous reader quotes Phys.org:
Japan launched a cargo ship Friday bound for the International Space Station, carrying a
“space junk” collector that was made with the help of a fishnet company… Researchers are using a so-called electrodynamic tether made from thin wires of stainless steel and aluminum… The electricity generated by the tether as it swings through the Earth’s magnetic field is expected to have a slowing effect on the space junk, which should, scientists say, pull it into a lower and lower orbit. Eventually the detritus will enter the Earth’s atmosphere, burning up harmlessly long before it has a chance to crash to the planet’s surface.
Bloomberg has some interesting background:
The experiment is part of an international cleanup effort planning to safeguard astronauts and about $900 billion worth of space stations, satellites and other infrastructure… Satellite collisions and testing of anti-satellite weapons have added thousands of debris fragments in the atmosphere since 2007, according to NASA… With debris traveling at up to 17,500 miles an hour, the impact of even a marble-size projectile can cause catastrophic damage.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.