Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Space Broom

A means of clearing small bits of space debris from orbit
  (+7, -4)
(+7, -4)
  [vote for,

A large, thick sheet of aerogel is released from behind a space shuttle or other vehicle to capture stray object such as loose screws and other small bits of space junk.

As the aerogel collects more and more material, it eventually loses enough speed to move to lower and lower orbits until finally it re-enters the atmosphere, taking the captured space junk with it.

ideally, the aerogel could be taken to orbit in the form of a liquid and sprayed out from the vehicle, sort of like a large spider web.

mzellers, Mar 18 2009

These guys will do it for you Near_20Earth_20Orbi...ation_20Corporation
[normzone, Mar 18 2009]

Will ruin the Space Clouds Space_20Clouds
I once had this idea to SET dust in space... [pashute, Mar 19 2009]


       Great Idea but how many billions of dollars or euros, yen will this endeavor cost?   

       Humans have difficulty keeping themselves clean or even the streets now we are going to clean space too.   

       If you captured it maybe you could sell garbage to finance the project instead of burning it up in the atmosphere. Which by the way sounds like a worse form of pollution.
vfrackis, Mar 18 2009

       [vfrackis] that seems like a bit of a counter-intuitive argument - what are you saying, that because some people litter here on earth, that we should ignore the potentially disastrous problem of orbiting debris?   

       There's no additional pollution compared to the alternative of not doing anything.   

       As to the cost, it would cost the same as any of the other 'putting things into orbit' missions cost - the fact that things have been put into orbit before suggests that this cost is a reasonable one.   

       Aerogel is already in use in space to collect space-dust and other fast-moving particles - it costs relatively little to deploy into orbit due to its minimal weight.
zen_tom, Mar 18 2009

       my thinking was that these items (space junk) they are slowly drawn into and then burned up into the earths atmosphere anyway, aren't they? orbit degrades - earth gravity.   

       I understand the purpose of the effort just would rather see the money spent to clean up Newark NJ for starters and possibly teach some people to have respect for the environment in general.   

       Also if space junk poses such a danger to space craft, start by building better space craft that are not so delicate.   

       You don't see automobiles made from light weight metallic films.   

       We should consider an advance plan for vacuuming up Saturn's rings because what if our progeny go there someday and bump into stuff.   

       What about a satellite that generates its own exaggerated magnetic field? One that repels objects, knocking them into alternate trajectories possibly expediting their atmospheric demise or knocking out into space.
vfrackis, Mar 18 2009

       We could recycle space junk Aerogel once used and resell it on earth a lubricant for fun times in the bedroom.   

       "Space Junk Aerogel" I would use it and I would wear a space suit made from light weight metallic film.
vfrackis, Mar 18 2009

       Obligatory nod to Larry Niven and the Dreampark book(s).   

       Objects that have traveled great distances have more juju than those that haven't.   

       Orbited objects have travelled extreme distances. I'd wear jewelry made from space junk. There's a means to defray some of your costs.
normzone, Mar 18 2009

       A part of the value (and menace) of space junk is that they are already in some kind of orbit. It would be wise to recycle it up there in some manner.
Aristotle, Mar 18 2009

       A problem with this is that space is big.
bungston, Mar 18 2009

       ...I mean really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemists, but that's just peanuts to space. </h2g2>
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Mar 18 2009

       So in a way we live on space junk? No   

       what's the point of rearranging anything then I would hate to spend my time trying to appropriately organize garbage.   

       That crushed can should go over there between the Dented Desk and the Broken Bow and arrow .   

       juju is excellent. what's my juju? is it a factor of the earths juju?
vfrackis, Mar 18 2009

       The "change in velocity" is the problem: "delta V".   

       Aerogel "is/will be" great as thermo/acoustic insulation. If you are willing to put up with the - (now necessary) - slight bluish tinge (I am!), than aerogel is the future! Using the state-of-the-art of our current physics knowledge, we might NEVER be able to get rid of the slight bluish tinge of aerogel. It has nothing to do with the chemicals it's made of, but the physical size of the "pockets": they correspond to an half wavelength of the electromagnetic radiation spectra that we can see: blue.   

       The orbital "debris" you propose to collect isn't moving at Millimeters per second (which, by itself, is fast enough to destroy aerogel, and render it as just more debris: remember, aerogel is kind of like cotton-candy; except not as STRONG and STIFF), but Kilometers/second (a million times faster). The convolutions NASA has used to slow "comet dust/gas" down to be picked up in an aerogel filter should stymie most collecting conception ideas.   

       Nice thought, though, for thinking about our environment, [mzellers]; but unfortunately, I think that gravity/friction will have to be our near-orbit vacuum cleaner ... at least for the near term... [-]
Wily Peyote, Mar 18 2009

       Aerogel has no strength. Anything more than dust size particles would plow right through it, blowing it into thousands of new particles of debris. A good bakery idea, though, because the solution is far worse than the problem.
ldischler, Mar 18 2009

       [marked-for-tagline]: "A good bakery idea, though, because the solution is far worse than the problem." ~ [ldischler]   

       ...is this taken yet? Is there an "approved" collection of [marked-for-tagline] gems stored somewhere? A tagline vault? If so, may I ... humbly propose to posit this "emerald" there?
Wily Peyote, Mar 18 2009


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