ESA to Clean Up Space Garbage By Shooting Fishing Nets Out of Cannons

Tuesday, 24 March 2015 - 4:46PM
ESA
Tuesday, 24 March 2015 - 4:46PM
ESA to Clean Up Space Garbage By Shooting Fishing Nets Out of Cannons
The amount of debris surrounding Earth, mostly pieces of defunct satellites, is astronomical and steadily growing. But ESA might have an answer to that problem, in the form of woven fishing nets that shoot out of cannons in zero gravity and wrap around objects in space.



In the above video, the nets are shot out of a compressed air ejector towards a model satellite, they fly weightlessly until they reach the object, and weights at the corners help them to wrap around the satellite and ensnare it. ESA ran this test many times, firing 20 nets at differing speeds over two days.
"We shot nets out of a compressed air ejector at a scale-model satellite," ESA engineer Kjetil Wormnes said in a statement. "The good news is they worked extremely well – so much so that the nets usually had to be cut away with a knife before we could shoot again."

The nets tested are, of course, much smaller than a net that could be used to catch debris in space. But these tests may prove that the simulation tool used to design the smaller nets can be used to design a larger net for missions to clean up space junk. 
Science
Space
ESA