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"Collector" for screw-size debris thinkable?

Posted by: Ekkehard Augustin - Sat Mar 26, 2005 2:31 pm
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"Collector" for screw-size debris thinkable? 
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Post "Collector" for screw-size debris thinkable?   Posted on: Sat Mar 26, 2005 2:31 pm
The problem with debris of the size of a screw is its very high velocity. As far as I informed its velocity at a given orbit is significantly high than the velocity of larger objects its hitting.

This moment now I thought of it and the first trvial conclusion seems to be that a collector of such screw-sized debris should be as fast as the debris. So it should have similar weight. I don't know why but next I remebered the ballutes of Ball. These ballutes seem to be very light. They remind be to a material that can form bubbles and so on. It's liquid but hardens when heated. There are similar material that don't harden but provide the same purpose - something that touches the material cannot esacpe it anymore.

What about a very thin sail made of a material of these properties orbiting by the velocities of screw-sized debris and this way collecting it?

The velocity of that sail shouldn't be identical to the debris-velocity but quite close to it. Then screw-sized debris by screw-sized debris would approach to it and cached this way.

Another possibility- for larger debris - could be to put such a sail around the object. When other dsebirs hits that object by similar velocities these debrises might collect there perhaps.

What materials could do that in space?



Dipl.-Volkswirt (bdvb) Augustin (Political Economist)


Last edited by Ekkehard Augustin on Tue Apr 05, 2005 7:25 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post    Posted on: Mon Apr 04, 2005 12:45 pm
Hrm.... How about a magnet?

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Post    Posted on: Mon Apr 04, 2005 12:57 pm
A magnet will be of use too - but there are very small things orbiting that don't be effected by magnets. Nails and screw are examples only in the initial post - and there are nails and screws too that are not metallic. May be some of them are orbital debris.

A few moments ago I thought of an additional method - an orbiting turbine. Each time an object approaches that is orbiting fast than that turbine it would set it to fast rotation when the approaching objects hits a wing of the turbine. This way the hitting object would lose impulse beacuse a part of that impulse has been moved over to the turbine. The course of the hitting object might be changed too - and the velocity of the hitting object could be measured.

The measurement could be used to adjust the velocity of another debris-catcher to the velocity of the hitting object. The other catcher would be able then to collect the formerly hitting object instead of being damaged by that object. And that catcher could be a magnet - among others.

It will be required that the turbine has very very few friction plus close similarity to the velocity of the debris to prevent the destruction of the wings. May be that short-run adjustments could be done if the most modern optics are provided and used for the detetction of very very small debris.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 05, 2005 12:10 am
Consider a spider's web type structure of elastic materials and cords of varying thickness and elasticity to absorb the relative velocity between the object and the net. As the high energy object hits it begins losing energy to pulling the elastic cords. Having varying sizes would be for a variety of sizes and mass density of the objects you want to capture and to insure that there's enough reserve elasticity that not a lot of breakage happens. The "weaker" strands begin to absorb energy fast enough to react to a high relative velocity with the larger stronger strands coming into play as the net is deformed.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 05, 2005 12:06 pm
Right; the question being what to mount the net to....

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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 05, 2005 3:05 pm
Yes, it wasn't clear what the intention of catching this stuff is from the original post ... if it's for protection a frame holding the net in place would be directional and needn't be too stout to get the job done in zero gravity.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 05, 2005 3:08 pm
The intention of catching the debris is to increase security for touristic flights. And to get the debris by catching it may make it possible to make good use of it.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 05, 2005 3:27 pm
For protection a net does seem to be a practical concept. Foams or shields are too heavy and bulky, with a net you can use a fold-up frame that can be deployed and retrieved when you need it.

Still, the actual skin of the vehicle should be fairly resistant to puncture by this size of object or there's likely a basic problem with the trade-off between weight of the vehicle and security if you're depending on having to deploy some kind of protection ... I think the net idea is good for flights into known debris fields but shouldn't be needed for normal flights.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Apr 06, 2005 9:08 am
There are several approaches completing each other - two at least:

1. Protection of the vehicles by shields installed at them
2. Cleaning the orbits from debris - which is a challenge in case of small debris, micro-debris and nano-debris

In my initial post I have been thinking about cleaning the orbits from small, micro- and nano-debris. This would reduce the danger and the requirement of shields which in turn would tend to reduce the weight of the vehicles.

In practice there could be one extended initial cleaning and next scheduled repititive cleanings. Depending on the size of the cleaning equipment orbits could be grouped and then there would orbits reserved for cleaning and other orbits opened for use. After cleaning the reserved ones these could be opended again and others which were open previously will be reserved for cleaning.

I am thinking about equipment to act such ways. If such equipment could be used as a kind of shield for vehicles then this would be very good. Best were if the cleaning equipment would collect all the debris for future use too - regardless of to use it in space or at earthian surface or at the surface of another planet.

I find each idea posted here very interesting and the arguments tend to indicate too which way to use a concrete suggested equipment best.



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Post    Posted on: Wed Apr 06, 2005 8:55 pm
Hey, why not run an orbital recycling business? It's been proposed before, and with the sheer amount of slag floating around up in orbit, it should be possible to use it for something, even if you don't deorbit it, and instead use it for something upstairs.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:14 am
Yes, this would be a very good idea. And you are completely right - it has been proposed several times by several persons at this board as well as elsewhere in the public. That's one of the reasons why I initiated this thread.

Only problem: To make a business of it the debris has to provide use. To look for such use a new thread should be initiated. The simple cleaning of the orbits will be of use already I think - Bigelow Aerospace should be interested, the ISS-consortium should be interested and the owners of satellites too.

Perhaps the collected debris could be brought to the moon by the first future missions of the Bush plan and used in building the lunar station. I am still talking of the very small debris here - the large debris can be got much easier. The net and the other collectors alread proposed in earlier posts of this thread perhaps could be mounted to such large debris. And the large debris perhaps could be used as container for small debris - I am thinking of old rocket stages this moment.



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Post    Posted on: Mon Apr 11, 2005 4:03 pm
Are you talking about blindly sweeping a volume of space instead of actively locating and rendezvousing with debris? If so, wouldn't you need a giant size collector, like a kilometer wide, to be effective?


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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 12, 2005 7:24 am
Hello, Peter,

I am talking here about debris NASA couldn't locate yet and consequently cannot rendezvouding with yet - screws for example. ISS has been reported to be hit by such small debris.

So I am NOT talking about those 170,000 objects that are known and registered and that the orbits are known of.

I am talking about to clean the orbits of other debris than those 170,000 objects.

The size of the collector depends on the sitze of the vehicles, satellites and stations etc. that might be hurt by the small debris. A kilometer wide collector isn't required - if a vehicle or a station has a diameter of 30 meters the collector to clean the orbit of that station doesn't need to be wider than 50 meters.

When that 50 meter wide collector has been cleaning the orbit of that station it should be moved to the next orbit in the neighbourhood for a year - and so on.

In general I would prefer a fleet of 50 meter wide collectors instead of one huge kilometer-wide collector.

The size of the collector by far isn't that important - the capabilities of the collector are the relevant topic. There is debris that is not magnetized and not magnetizible for example - the collector has to have the capability to collect this debris too.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 12, 2005 12:55 pm
OK, that sounds like a good idea. But I would call it a shield and not a collector. It would protect the space craft it was in front of but would not really clean the orbit because it would not sweep out a large enough volume of space.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 12, 2005 1:19 pm
You would be right if it really would be mounted on a spacecraft, on a station or on a satellite.

But my idea is that it is NOT mounted to a vehicle, station or satellite. So its free to move around - it can be accelerated, decelerated, change its shape and much more.

And the idea is that the debris should be catched - the debris should remain at the object it hurts. That's the reason why I call it a "collector" - the collected debris should be available for future use. It should be use in space if possible and desired, at another planet if possible and desired and the rest should be go down to Earth and/or melt etc. there.

In comparison to shields the advantage for vehicles, stations and satellites would be that debris is removed before it can hurt them. This would be better than shielding only - it would be a further reduction of risks.



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