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A Japanese firm said Monday it has successfully launched a spacecraft tasked with inspecting potentially dangerous man-made debris floating around Earth.

The European Space Agency (ESA) estimates that around one million pieces of satellite and rocket debris larger than one centimeter – enough to “disable a spacecraft” – are in orbit.

Active Debris Removal by Astroscale-Japan (ADRAS-J) aims to meet and examine the remnants of the Japanese H2A rocket floating in space for the past 15 years.

Project manager Eijiro Atarashi said in a statement that the probe was launched from New Zealand at 1452 GMT on Sunday, and that Astroscale “has successfully made contact … and is ready to begin operations”.

The exact location and orbital position of the H2A upper stage rocket body launched by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). In 2009 and around the size of a bus, is not known.

But using ground observation data, the estimated position will be determined and from ADRAS-J”. and then collect images to assess the movement and condition of the structure.

The ADRAS-J spacecraft — which Astroscale says is the first of its kind — was selected by JAXA for the first phase of a program aimed at removing large Japanese-origin debris in cooperation with private companies.

Debris such as spent satellites, rocket parts and collision debris have been accumulating since the dawn of the space age, a problem that has accelerated in recent decades.

A possible solution involves using a Pushing objects into a new orbit and replacing Astroscale with its own “tow-truck,” which uses magnets to assemble and move satellites out of service.

The ADRAS-J mission began when Japan successfully flew its new flagship, the H3. Saturday after years of delays and two previous failed attempts.

It also followed the country’s successful landing of an unmanned probe on the moon last month — albeit at an odd angle — making it only the fifth country to achieve a “soft” lunar landing.

© 2024 AFP

Reference: Japanese Space Debris Probe Launched (2024, February 19) Retrieved February 19, 2024 from https://phys.org/news/2024-02-japanese-space-debris-probe.html

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