Scientists at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) were trying to test an experimental system in which a long cable would be deployed from the Kounotori 6 satellite and directed toward a piece of space debris.
Researchers with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency developed and began testing an electrodynamic, 700-meter-long tether-like device, which was created to extend from the body of a cargo ship bringing supplies to astronauts at the ISS.
Scientists have considered other techniques to trap and destroy space junk, including using lasers to vaporize the debris or sending small satellites into space that would trap particles and combust along with them. On board was also an experimental magnetized tether meant to gather space junk in orbit around Earth.
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More than 50,000 pieces of debris are now whirling around our planet, including fragments of nonfunctional spacecrafts and abandoned satellites.
Earlier, Japanese agency reported that space junk collector is encountering some problem and has not been successfully deployed.
Over 100 million pieces of garbage are thought to be whizzing around the planet, including cast-off equipment from old satellites and bits of rocket, which experts say could pose risks for future space exploration.
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This experiment was to serve as a basis for the subsequent constitution of a much larger rope (5000 to 10 000 meters) deemed necessary to efficiently clean up the space. The general idea is that the electrodynamic tether would attract electrons from the ambient plasma in the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere and that these electrons could power a "current drive". The device would then carry the debris to a lower orbit, where it would enter the atmosphere and burn up before colliding with the Earth's surface.
"We believe the tether did not get released", leading researcher Koichi Inoue said. "It is, of course, disappointing that we have completed the mission without achieving one of its main objectives", he said.
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