Feeds

NASA mini-sat parachutes to a halt in space, prangs into atmos

Could be means of clearing up orbital trash

Application security programs and practises

NASA has successfully tested an extraterrestrial rubbish collector that could sweep up the star system's space debris.

The agency's NanoSail-D is a teeny satellite that deployed the first-ever solar sail in low-Earth orbit and sailed around the planet for more than 240 days.

The sail is NASA's idea for cleaning up decommissioned satellites and space junk by floating it gently towards Earth and then annihilating it in the atmosphere.

The agency sent up the nanosatellite as a payload on FASTSAT on 19 November last year to test the low mass, high surface area sail.

"The NanoSail-D mission produced a wealth of data that will be useful in understanding how these types of passive deorbit devices react to the upper atmosphere," said Joe Casas, FASTSAT project scientist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

Scientists are still analysing the data from the mission, but early indications are that the sail works as the boffins hoped.

"The final rate of descent depended on the nature of solar activity, the density of the atmosphere surrounding NanoSail-D and the angle of the sail to the orbital track," principal investigator Dean Alhorn said. "It is astounding to see how the satellite reacted to the sun's solar pressure. The recent solar flares increased the drag and brought the nanosatellite back home quickly."

And of course, the NanoSail-D did burn up on re-entry, exactly as it was intended to do, which is a fairly good sign as well. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.