Feeds

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

Could be means of clearing up orbital trash

High performance access to file storage

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Video games make you NASTY AND VIOLENT
Especially if you are bad at them and keep losing
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Saturn spotted spawning new FEMTO-MOON
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
India's GPS alternative launches second satellite
Closed satnav system due to have all seven birds aloft by 2016
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.