London: NASA hopes to sweep away more than half a million pieces of space junk, adrift in the skies, with a radical solution.
It is looking at new technology developed by University of Michigan, where `pulses` of gas will be fired into the path of debris, increasing the `drag` on orbiting junk and practically sucking them downwards.
Pieces of space junk travel at speeds up to eight km per second, fast enough to damage a satellite or a spacecraft. There`s also a danger of `cascading collisions`, where space debris impact with one another creating more, smaller pieces of space junk.
Debris belts have already made many orbits unusable. The pulses themselves would leave no trace - and the new method also leaves no solid material in orbit, the Daily Mail reported.
The satellite will `grab` lumps of orbiting debris and throw them back into Earth`s atmosphere, where they will burn up on re-entry.
The proposed new system would be known as the Space Debris Elimination (SpaDE) system - and would aim to remove debris from orbit by firing focused pulses of atmospheric gases into the path of targeted debris.