OSCaR Spacecraft Would Clean Up Space Junk

OSCaR Spacecraft Would Clean Up Space Junk

A little spacecraft which is called OSCaR would clean the space junk. The spacecraft OSCaR (Obsolete Spacecraft Capture and Removal) would hunt down and de-orbit debris on the cheap using onboard nets and tethers.

“We tell OSCaR what to do and then we have to trust it,” project leader Kurt Anderson, a professor of mechanical, aerospace and nuclear engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, said in a statement.

A little spacecraft could soon make a big contribution in the fight against space junk.

“That’s why this problem actually gets very hard, because we are doing things that a big, expensive satellite would do, but in a cubesat platform,” Anderson added.

As it is clear for us space junk has become of the big problems for astronomers and the problem is getting worse. About 129 million pieces of debris are existing around Earth at the moment, about 34,000 of which are at least 4 inches (10 centimeters) wide, according to European Space Agency estimates.

“There’s a real problem,” said Anderson, who’s developing OSCaR with his students. “The amount of observed debris is increasing faster now than the rate that we’re actually putting more objects into space. This is an indication that [the] earliest stages of the Kessler Syndrome may be upon us.”

The Kessler Syndrome is a crippling cascade of collisions that could occur if the concentration of orbital debris becomes dense enough. So each collision may produce more debris.

“There’s an informal agreement that’s been in place for a few years that people who put space objects up there should be practicing good citizenship,” Anderson said. “We envision a day where we could send up an entire flock, or squadron, of OSCaRs to work jointly going after large collections of debris.”

Each OSCaR craft will be capable of capturing and removing four pieces of debris, Anderson said. Anderson also adds that the team wants to test OSCaR on the ground sometime this year.

Source: Space.com

Image credit; Space.com