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Sandblast Low Earth Orbit

Space debris are an increasing problem. This was predicted by Don Kessler ( ). I thought one solution could be to put active or passive items in retrograde orbit that have cannonballs or clouds of sand hit debris, make them decelerate and reenter the atmosphere.

This had already been envisioned and was discarded.

Don Kessler's conclusion is that the only way to handle the cloud of space debris is to stop increasing it. Satellites must include the necessary means to bring them down once their service is over.

Maybe a solution could be to throw pieces of aerogel at debris, instead of sand. The aerogel, like a gas, would not crater the debris and cause splintering. A retrograde killer satellite may contain the chemicals to manufacture a kind of aerogel. Either the killer satellites can shoot at debris or they can shepherd clouds of pieces of aerogel. The impacted debris would be almost intact but would be braked enough to significantly increase their atmospheric drag and speed up their re-entry.

Peddles of aerogel can maybe also be used to shepherd debris towards defined lanes, where they can be picked up. Shepherd satellites would then be present in all kinds of orbits, in order to be able to transfer the adequate changes of momentum, using pieces of aerogel. In a general way, aerogel is a way to transfer momentum between objects that have different speed vectors. Pieces of aerogel manufactured on the Moon or aside asteroids...

Below are the links to two GIF animations that show the result of a toy numerical simulation to compare the hit rate of a prograde and a retrograde satellite. The green dots are 999 random debris. The white dot is the killer satellite, whose orbit decreases steadily.

Eric Brasseur  -  May 29 2012  till  February 16 2019