Japan may soon be producing the world’s first wooden satellites which would burn up when they plunge back to Earth without releasing harmful substances into the atmosphere, in an effort to reduce space trash.
Sumitomo Forestry, a Japan-based wood processing company, said they have begun researching on an ideal wood material for space and will carry out research in partnership with Kyoto University and test the material in extreme environment on earth. They announced that the satellite can be ready by 2023.
The partnership says the problem of space debris will eventually affect the environment of the earth. Quoted by BBC, Taka Doi, an astronaut and professor at Kyoto University said: “We are very concerned with the fact that all the satellites which re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere burn and create tiny alumina particles which will float in the upper atmosphere for many years.”
The wooden satellites would burn up on re-entry without raining debris on the ground.
Space junk, also called space pollution, comprises human-generated objects, such as pieces of spacecraft, tiny flecks of paint from a spacecraft, parts of rockets, satellites that are no longer working, or explosions of objects in orbit flying around in space at high speeds, according to Nasa.
As of October 2019, the US space surveillance network reported nearly 20,000 artificial objects in orbit above the Earth, including 2,218 operational satellites.
Experts have warned that increasing the number of satellites in space requires more efforts from all countries to control the problem of space junk. Several companies like SpaceX and Amazon plan to launch thousands of satellites to achieve global satellite internet coverage.
In October this year, two large pieces of space junk nearly collided with each other in what experts said could have been a ‘high-risk’ situation. According to National Geographic, the two objects were a defunct Russian navigation satellite launched in 1989 and a spent Chinese rocket part from a 2009 launch and if they had collided, the smashup would have created a cloud of debris that would jeopardise other satellites and spacecraft for decades.