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Japanese researchers are working hard to make wooden satellites



Illustration titled

image: Sumitomo Forestry

Floating around the earth is a bunch of satellites. GPS is cool, it can monitor weather patterns and the Internet, while space junk is not so cool. This is why Sumitomo Forestry and Kyoto University have collaborated to produce the world’s first wooden satellite by 2023.

You might think that metal satellites will burn up when they re-enter, but it turns out that it’s not that simple. Astronaut and Kyoto University professor Takao Doi told Science magazine: “We are very worried that all satellites that re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere will burn and produce tiny alumina particles, which will float in the upper atmosphere for many years.” BBC When talking about projects. “Ultimately it will affect the earth’s environment.”

Wood, but will It will burn completely on reentry without leaving harmful substances in the atmosphere or spreading dangerous debris.according to Nikkei AsiaAnother reason why researchers conduct experiments on wood is that it does not block electromagnetic waves or the earth’s own magnetic field. This means that the construction of wooden satellites may be simpler because components such as antennas can be placed inside the satellite itself.

As for the types of wood, Sumitomo Forestry has been silent. The company just told the BBC that this is a “R&D” secret, but it can resist temperature changes, sunlight and extreme weather conditions. Sumitomo Forestry and Kyoto University also stated that they will also study the feasibility of building wooden structures in space by March 2024.

Currently, the goal of Sumitomo Forestry and Kyoto University is to create a “proof of concept” to study the growth of trees and the behavior of wood in space. According to Doi, the next step is to create an engineering model for the satellite, and then a flight model. However, even if wood satellites do not become a reality, it is possible to use any wood developed for the more extreme environments on Earth.

according to World Economic ForumThere are currently approximately 6,000 satellites in orbit, of which 60% have actually disappeared. At the same time, it is estimated that 990 satellites will be launched each year in the next ten years. The World Economic Forum also pointed out that More than 1.5 million space junk Bigger than the marble currently floating around the earth 20,000 pieces The trash is bigger than softball is not set in stone.They are actually up to 17,500 miles per hour, The speed required to stay in orbit and not fall back to the earth itself.according to NASA, More space junk will make all types of spacecraft (including the International Space Station, the space shuttle and any other spacecraft that may carry people) more and more dangerous. (Actually, NASA and Russian flight controllers regularly Practice avoidance You don’t even need a particularly large chip to cause damage-even if it shows paint spots, it can damage the windows of a space shuttle.

As Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Amazon’s Project Kuiper both make the problem of space chaos more and more serious Race to launch thousands of satellites Get into orbit to provide low-cost internet.At the same time, astronomers also Express concern These satellite constellations may Destroy their abilities Observe the universe. It is not clear how many wooden satellites can alleviate this problem, but it is better than putting more metal trash on them.


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