Topic of the Day – RemoveDEBRIS Mission

UPSC Exam Preparation: Topic of the Day – RemoveDEBRIS Mission

It has been decided by the University of Surrey, United Kingdom to launch the “Remove Debris mission” this year in order to remove debris in the space.

Significance of the Mission:

  • There is almost 7,000 tons of active space debris—from old satellites and spacecraft to lost components and spent rocket parts-orbiting Earth at any given moment which may take years to disintegrate.
  • More debris in the space means greater chances of collisions – a cascade effect known as the Kessler syndrome. The Kessler syndrome might make it impossible for other satellites to operate in the space. For example: other satellites of high importance like those for weather forecasting, communication, cartography, navigation etc.
  • The Remove Debris satellite platform shall display four methods for release, capture and deorbit two space debris targets, called DebriSATs:
  1. Net capture: A net shall be deployed at the target in order to capture the satellite at the target CubeSat.
  2. Harpoon Capture: The Harpoon capture would be launched at the target plate. The target plate would be made up of materials of representative satellite panel.
  3. Vision-based navigation: The data will be sent back to the ground for processing the same, with the help of cameras and LiDAR (light detection and ranging).
  4. De-orbiting process: The de-orbiting process is such that the satellite burns up as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere. This ensures that there is no debris left behind in the space.
  • The removeDEBRIS mission will demonstrate key Active Debris Removal (ADR) technologies in the orbit. This would have significant impact on the missions to be launched in the future as well.
  • A “space debris monitor sensor” has been installed for measuring the direction, speed, size, time and energy of small debris that affect the  sensor and the International Space Station.


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