The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) is teaming up with Nitto Seimo Co, a fishing equipment manufacturer, to create a net that will clean up space debris in Earth’s orbit.
Jaxa will launch a rocket with a satellite developed by researchers at Kagawa University to perform the first test of technology in late February, according to a report in the South China Morning Post.
The satellite will release a wire net measuring 300 m long and 30 cm wide. The net is made of strong but highly flexible metal fibre. It will generate a magnetic field that will attract some of the debris circulating in Earth’s orbit.
It is estimated that there are 100 million pieces of man-made debris floating in space. Some 22,000 of that total measure 10 cm or larger, a size at which space debris can damage spaceships and satellites. The majority of the debris is between 700 km and 1,000 km above the Earth’s surface.
Jaxa is planning further trials next year. The technology could be deployed as early as 2019.