ESA funds study to tackle space debris by deploying swarms of satellites in low Earth orbit Science News

ESA funds study to tackle space debris by deploying swarms of satellites in low Earth orbit

ROARS mission concept. (Image credit: OpenCosmos/University of Warwick).

ESA has approved funding for a concept mission Revealing Orbital and Atmospheric Responses to Solar Activity (ROARS), which aims to use a swarm of satellites to deliver scientific payloads from a larger satellite, Which provides better observation capabilities. Researchers are investigating the potential to use CubeSats, standardized modular small satellites that are the size of microwave ovens. Researchers hope the ROARS swarm can provide important data that could prevent collisions between satellites that could result in more space debris and collisions between satellites and space debris.

The satellites will be equipped with cutting-edge equipment, including magnetic and atmospheric sensors and capabilities to communicate with each other using lasers. The swarm will be supported by laser and radar equipment on the ground. The researchers hope to find out how solar activity and space weather increase or decrease drag in the upper atmosphere. When the Sun is particularly energetic, it can expand the atmosphere, increasing the drag on satellites, causing them to lose altitude. In February last year, 40 Starlink satellites were destroyed shortly after launch due to intense solar activity.

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Ravindra Desai, principal investigator of the mission, says, “This mission concept seeks to comprehensively understand how space weather deposits energy in our upper atmosphere, and how it endangers the satellites we monitor. are increasingly dependent on for their daily lives. We hope this will provide a significant change in our ability to safely use our space environment and will deliver on ESA’s Terre Nova vision of providing Low Earth Orbit as a safe haven for further exploration of the Moon and Mars. Will enable.

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The swarm based design allows the satellites themselves to avoid collisions. Additionally, all ROARS satellites have de-orbital technologies that will allow them to safely lower their altitude after a five-year period, a measure taken to ensure that the ROARS swarm itself does not run into that problem. Does not contribute to what it seeks to address. ,

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