Government Backs UK Companies Tackling Dangerous Space Junk

Distribution of space debris around Earth (Credit: ESA)

Seven UK companies have been awarded a share of over £1 million [$1.3 million] to help track debris in space

  • Currently there are approximately 160 million objects in orbit – mainly debris – which could collide with satellites vital to services we use every day
  • UK Space Agency and Ministry of Defence sign formal agreement to work together on monitoring threats and hazards in orbit

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) –Seven pioneering projects which will develop new sensor technology or artificial intelligence to monitor hazardous space debris, have been announced today by the UK Space Agency.

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ESA Opens Oxygen Plant – Making Air Out of Moondust

ESA research fellow Alexandre Meurisse and Beth Lomax of the University of Glasgow preparing to make oxygen and metal out of simulated moondust inside ESA’s Materials and Electrical Components Laboratory. (Credit: ESA–A. Conigili)

ESA’s technical heart has begun to produce oxygen out of simulated moondust.

NOORDWIJK, The Netherlands (ESA PR) — A prototype oxygen plant has been set up in the Materials and Electrical Components Laboratory of the European Space Research and Technology Centre, ESTEC, based in Noordwijk in the Netherlands.

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Extracting Oxygen and Metal from Lunar Regolith

Simulated lunar regolith before and after all the oxygen has been extracted from it. (Credit: Beth Lomax – University of Glasgow)

GLASGOW, Scotland (ESA PR) — On the left side of this before and after image is a pile of simulated lunar soil, or regolith; on the right is the same pile after essentially all the oxygen has been extracted from it, leaving a mixture of metal alloys. Both the oxygen and metal could be used in future by settlers on the Moon.

Samples returned from the lunar surface confirm that lunar regolith is made up of 40-45% percent oxygen by weight, its single most abundant element.

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Clyde Space, University of Glasgow Develop Speed Brake for CubeSats

AEOLDOS (Credit: Clyde Space)

GLASGOW, Scotland (Clyde Space PR) — Engineers at the University of Glasgow and Clyde Space Ltd have developed a practical solution to the increasing problem of space debris.

The Aerodynamic End Of Life Deorbit System, or AEOLDOS, is a lightweight, foldable ‘aerobrake’ which can be added to small satellites known as CubeSats before they are launched into low Earth orbit. Once the satellite has reached the end of its operational life, the lightweight aerobrake opens to generate aerodynamic drag that will de-orbit the spacecraft.

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