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New gossamer sail could bring decomissioned satellites out of orbit
22 December 2013
Researchers from the University of Surrey have developed a new method to bring aging satellites back to Earth so they no longer pose a threat to spacecraft or other probes by continuing to orbit in a nonworking state.
The device is an ultra-lightweight "gossamer sail" that could be packed into satellites which could be deployed near the end of their life cycles, the European Space Agency (ESA) - which has funded the project through its Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems program - explained in a statement on 20 December.
"The increased aerodynamic drag would pull the craft out of orbit to burn up in the high atmosphere, reducing the risk of catastrophic collisions and creating a sustainable space environment for future generations," the ESA added.