The UK Daily Telegraph recently ran a story about a collaboration between Japan’s space agency (JAXA), and a traditional manufacturer of fishing nets. Believe it or not the idea is to build a huge net, spanning several kilometers in size, comprised of a lattice of thin metal strands to capture debris in Earth orbit. I think I must be missing something here, or the article has omitted some important detail. But the fact that the average speed of debris with respect to the net will be of the order of 10 km/sec does pose one or two problems! Given the size of the net, the probability of debris impacts upon it is essentially 1, within a short period of time. The consequence of the resulting numerous high energy impacts will cause the net to gradually erode into many thousands of tiny fragments, so significantly worsening the problem it is intended to solve. There is also the effect that the net would have upon an orbiting object with which it collides. Such an event is likely to cause fragmentation of the object, and the consequences for operational, or even crewed, spacecraft would be disastrous. The article does say that the net is ‘super-strong’, but nothing is going to stop and capture an object travelling with such high relative speeds. I repeat – what am I missing here?
Graham Swinerd - I hope to use this page to highlight current major events in space and spacececraft.