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12 September 2010 @ 05:14 pm
One of the applications we've been looking at on the project is the problem of orbital debris and how they might be cleaned up. One suggestion, apparently, is to put up a big wall of that forensic jelly stuff they fire bullets into in CSI - then all the debris would hit it and get stuck. Of course, then the problem would be the large wall of flying jelly with bits of broken satellite stuck to it!

Anyway the Germans are building a satellite with a grasping arm. They plan to launch this and test it's ability to grab hold of objects that aren't "co-operating" (i.e. aren't also working to some predefined docking sequence). As far as I can tell the mission objectives consist entirely of going up into orbit, grabbing stuff and then letting go of it again. They haven't any plans to do anything useful with anything they grab, they just want to see if they can. This project is called DEOS (Deutsche Orbitale Servicing Mission). They have some interesting problems to solve, for instance, in space, if you reach forwards with your arm then your body is likely to move backwards!

My preferred solution to the orbital debris is to arm a satellite with a laser and give it some kind of utility function. So it autonomously decides whether something is useless and shoots it if it is. As I keep asking what could possibly go wrong with that? Sadly the most obvious thing that could go wrong is that you'd just end up with lots of very small debris floating around, rather than big bits of debris, so it doesn't solve the problem at all.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/19422.html.
bunnbunn on September 12th, 2010 04:44 pm (UTC)
I'm unreasonably amused not only by the pics but also by your description of the project...

I guess the little blue tiles are either protective or solarpower thingies,but they do give the whole thing a faint flavour of a public lavatory in space...
louisedennislouisedennis on September 12th, 2010 06:17 pm (UTC)
I think its the brutal squareness of it that gets me!
lukadreaminglukadreaming on September 12th, 2010 05:37 pm (UTC)
And now I have this image of flying jelly stuck in my mind! I don't know whether to be amused or concerned by the idea *g*.
louisedennislouisedennis on September 12th, 2010 06:17 pm (UTC)
I love the flying jelly idea. I feel it's clearly what the planet needs. Flying Jelly in orbit!
fififolle: Awwwwwww! polar bears dancingfififolle on September 12th, 2010 05:58 pm (UTC)
Aww! It's his adorkable little face with big black nose *g*
louisedennislouisedennis on September 12th, 2010 06:17 pm (UTC)
Now you mention it...
helflaedhelflaed on September 12th, 2010 08:24 pm (UTC)
Well the Germans are a very tidy people...
louisedennislouisedennis on September 13th, 2010 09:58 am (UTC)
I don't know. DEOS would suggest that you are quite interested in the process of tidying (i.e. the picking up of rubbish) but less interested in the result (the putting of the rubbish somewhere useful)...
Gabbygabcd86 on September 13th, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC)
I see no problem in having flying laser-rubbish robots in space. In fact, it sounds awesome. Just make them really feeble, so if they try to come and kill them, they burn up on re-entry. Duh. :P

Also, jelly sounds awesome. They could then sling it in to the sun. If they just pushed it, wouldn't its inertia just carry it to the sun once it left orbit?
louisedennis: ailouisedennis on September 14th, 2010 09:41 am (UTC)
I think the problem is that it's actually quite expensive to move things sufficiently far out that they break orbit altogether.
Gabbygabcd86 on September 14th, 2010 10:21 am (UTC)
*taps head*

Not in here. :D