Stop Burning Metal in our Skies

posted in: Blog, Science | 0

Japan to Launch First Wooden Satellite

Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat)

In today’s world, satellites play a massive role in communications and observations, and I think we’d all be surprised to realize just how many are circling our planet right now. According to orbit.ing-now.com (a really cool website!) there are over 10,000.

Satellites don’t last forever, and the number of years will vary depending on how far up they are in orbit among other factors. What is astounding to me is that once no longer useful, they might be left in orbit, or have the last of their fuel utilized to send them down into the atmosphere where they burn up, or use the fuel to push them out into space as though space were some enormous garbage dump.

But when they do fall back to Earth the metal burns up in the atmosphere, and those burning metal particles are believed to be harmful to our ozone layer and may also block the sun from reaching the surface.

Wood, on the other hand, will burn to ash, which is considered far more environmentally friendly. I’m also thinking it is a lot safer than a falling metal satellite which if it didn’t burn all the way up could do some serious damage depending on where it lands.

Japan has designed a wooden prototype satellite that should launch via SpaceX rocket to the International Space Station in September. It will be released from the ISS and carefully monitored to determine the feasibility of a future of wooden satellites.

I think this is an amazing feat, and demonstrates something we need to do more of, which is find better ways to impact the world around us while advancing into that world’s many facets.

What are your thoughts on using wood for satellites? Share your opinions in the comments below.

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