Japan’s wooden satellite a way to tackle space pollution

zanieczyszczenia przestrzeni kosmicznej

Space pollution in low Earth orbit, which is increasing by 5 percent. annually, are a growing problem. Japanese researchers at Kyoto University became interested in the topic and succeeded in finding a solution. They have created the first satellite made of wood, which they plan to send into space later this summer.

LignoSat – the first satellite made from biodegradable materials

The first wooden satellite, LignoSat, was created with the cooperation of scientists from Kyoto University and employees of Sumitomo Forestry. It was built mainly from magnolia wood, which showed the greatest stability, as well as resistance to cracking, during the year-long tests conducted on the International Space Station ISS. Other types of wood, such as Erman birch and Japanese cherry, were also tested in the trials. However, the wood of the broad-leaved magnolia stood out for its best performance, including mainly durability. Therefore, it was from it that a satellite was created with dimensions comparable to the size of a coffee mug. It houses an antenna, and the outer body is covered with solar panels.

If the wood-built LignoSat survives its journey into space, it will not only contribute to solving the problem of space pollution, but will also significantly reduce the cost of building similar devices. This is because the aluminum used to date is both less environmentally friendly and much more expensive.

space pollution
photo: Kyoto University

Wooden satellites as solution to space pollution problem

A study by researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada has found that aluminum from returning satellites to Earth’s orbit has the potential to seriously weaken the ozone layer. In addition, it may also affect the reduction of sunlight that penetrates the atmosphere and reaches the Earth’s surface. The resulting pollutants in space affect the various elements of our climate. Especially if we consider that about 2,000 are scheduled to be launched in the coming years. satellites of this type. If they re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere, they burn and form tiny aluminum oxide particles that will float in the upper atmosphere for many years, Takao Doi, a Japanese astronaut and aerospace engineer at Kyoto University, recently warned.

The solution to the problem of space pollution may just become wooden satellites, which when burned after re-entering the atmosphere will not produce harmful substances, but only a small amount of biodegradable ash. That’s why Kyoto researchers have been working on a project in recent years to try to assess whether the wood can survive space launch and orbital flight.

The results of their research were astounding. This is because it turned out that the wood was resistant to the elements in these extreme conditions – its mass did not change, and it showed only minor damage when brought to Earth. Koji Murata, project manager, believes this is due to the lack of oxygen and the absence of living creatures in space that could contribute to material degradation. The discovery is a real breakthrough. Indeed, wooden satellites can have the same functionality as their metal counterparts, while being more friendly to the planet and its environment. Thanks to their use, space exploration will not contribute to the creation of more junk.

When will the first wooden satellite fly into space?

Although there is still no final decision on the choice of launcher, the first space mission of the wooden satellite is expected to take place later this summer. It will likely be carried out using the Orbital Sciences Cygnus resupply ship on the ISS. If this plan fails, an alternative solution is to locate it in space a little later, during a similar SpaceX Dragon mission.

Japan’s LignoSat will be sent into space to test how a satellite made of wood performs in Earth orbit. One of its missions will be to be able to measure the deformation of the wooden structure in this space. The wooden satellite will spend at least six months in orbit. It will then enter the upper layers of the atmosphere, where it will be destroyed, leaving behind only a small plume of atmosphere-safe ash.

There are high hopes for the LignoSat nanosatellite mission. If it proves itself in orbit, its construction will prove to be the opening of a new era of spacecraft that will be constructed from wood that does not contribute to interplanetary space pollution.

Photo. main: Kyoto University

Używamy plików cookie, aby zapewnić najlepszą jakość korzystania z Internetu. Zgadzając się, zgadzasz się na użycie plików cookie zgodnie z naszą polityką plików cookie.

Close Popup
Privacy Settings saved!
Ustawienie prywatności

Kiedy odwiedzasz dowolną witrynę internetową, może ona przechowywać lub pobierać informacje w Twojej przeglądarce, głównie w formie plików cookie. Tutaj możesz kontrolować swoje osobiste usługi cookie.

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems.

Technical Cookies
In order to use this website we use the following technically required cookies
  • wordpress_test_cookie
  • wordpress_logged_in_
  • wordpress_sec

For perfomance reasons we use Cloudflare as a CDN network. This saves a cookie "__cfduid" to apply security settings on a per-client basis. This cookie is strictly necessary for Cloudflare's security features and cannot be turned off.
  • __cfduid