In a fascinating use of time-tested technology to address uniquely modern problems, Japanese space agency JAXA is teaming up with Japanese fishing net maker Nitto Seimo to haul in some of the 100,000-plus objects of space junk orbiting the planet. A JAXA satellite will deploy and release a kilometers-wide net made by Nitto Seimo of ultra-thin triple layered metal threads. The net will gradually be drawn into Earth’s magnetic field and burned up along with the abandoned satellites, engine parts and other litter it’s collected.

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Nitto Seimo is a century-old Japanese company that pioneered super-strong knotless fishing nets. Japan’s powerful fishing traditions clearly inform its approach to the space junk problem. The U.S., meanwhile, is proposing a satellite rigged with hundreds of butterfly-style nets that would hurl their catch toward the South Pacific, where it wouldn’t cause any damage. The satellite and nets could be reused. The great thing about a big problem is that it frees you to try multiple solutions at the same time.


Via PopSci and The Telegraph

Lead image: European Space Agency