Japan to Tackle Space Junk With ... Giant Net
It's magnetic, and first trial run starts next month
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2014 5:55 PM CST
This is a computer-generated image provided by the European Space Agency; it's artist's impression of objects being tracked in Earth's orbit.   (AP Photo/ESA)

(Newser) – The amount of dangerous junk floating around in space is by all accounts getting out of control. Next month, Japan's space agency will try to do something about it with a novel idea: It's launching a huge magnetic net, reports the South China Morning Post. The contraption is 1,000 feet long but only a foot wide, and the theory is that it will attract all the floating detritus in the vicinity. Odd tidbit: The space agency teamed up with a company that makes fishing nets for its construction.

Think of it as "a sort of extraterrestrial version of a street sweeper," says a post at DVice. Engineers figure that the net will fill up and gradually start descending toward Earth in about a year, causing both the net and its catch to burn up in the atmosphere. This is just the first of several tests, and the nets will get progressively bigger. Japan hopes to have the final system in place by 2019. (Among the other ideas for how to battle space junk: harpoons, lasers, and kamikaze robots.)

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Showing 3 of 34 comments
Peter_T
Feb 4, 2014 6:27 PM CST
Since it is magnetic, doesn't this net also affect real satellites orbiting the Earth as well?
Ezekiel 25:17
Jan 26, 2014 7:20 PM CST
Really? They have a billion tons of Fukushima radiated crap floating toward California and they worry about the void of space?
orlandojonny
Jan 18, 2014 10:30 AM CST
Japan knows a lot about nets, they have come close to emptying the ocean with them.