Navigation path

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Botswana
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  Gambia
  Georgia

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Botswana
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  Gambia
  Georgia


   Infocentre

Published: 30 November 2017  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Human resources & mobilityMarie Curie Actions
Innovation
Pure sciencesAstronomy
Research policySeventh Framework Programme
SpaceTeledetection
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Germany  |  Italy  |  Serbia  |  Spain  |  United Kingdom
Add to PDF "basket"

A mission to control space junk and asteroids

An EU-funded research network has studied the threat of space junk and asteroids, helping to minimise their risks and better protect our planet, satellites and spaceships from potentially catastrophic hits.

Image of the metheor in the Space

© 3000ad - fotolia.com

Space debris and asteroids are two of the biggest threats facing us when it comes to what lies beyond our planet, with efforts being stepped up to combat these dangers.

Earth’s orbit is littered with more than 500 000 pieces of space junk – each travelling at up to 17 500 miles per hour. These have the potential to destroy satellites and spaceships. Further afield, asteroids hurtling towards Earth pose an unlikely but potentially catastrophic risk to our planet – as evidenced by the extinction of the dinosaurs.

The EU-funded STARDUST project has helped tackle the threat of space junk and asteroids, primarily through modelling and simulations, and by studying the orbit and attitude of space junk and how to deflect or remove asteroids.

“In the short term, the future of all space services like weather forecasts, Global Navigation Systems, telecommunication, TV broadcasting, climate and disaster monitoring, depend on the vulnerability of our space assets to space debris,” says project coordinator Massimiliano Vasile, a professor of space systems engineering and director of the Aerospace Centre of Excellence at the University of Strathclyde, UK.

Space junk

STARDUST research – which also involved NASA and universities in Japan, Australia and the United States – has developed better modelling and understanding of the motion of space debris.

This has resulted in new disposal strategies exploiting natural dynamics, including resonances with the motion of the moon, the sun and the Earth’s gravity. These techniques will help to better predict the future of constellations like Galileo and GPS, as well as satellites in Geosynchronous Orbit and Low Earth Orbit – and to design the best possible disposal strategies.

“Understanding the evolution of the space environment and viable ways to clean it up is of paramount importance to maintain all those vital services that are worth billions of euros,” says Vasile.

Asteroids

An asteroid of a similar scale to one that hit the Earth 60 million years ago could wipe out our civilisation. This means that understanding asteroids, how to predict their orbits and developing ways to deflect potential hits is incredibly important.

The STARDUST project worked on improved models to understand and predict the motion of so-called Near Earth Asteroids and their origins. It developed techniques to manipulate asteroids that will help humans be ready in the case of a potential impact.

The project has also helped build up knowledge on how laser ablation could theoretically be used to remove debris and manipulate asteroids. It proved that, in some scenarios, it might be the best way to deflect asteroids.

But, however dangerous they may be, asteroids could also become an asset for humans if used in the right way.

Studies have shown that asteroid mining – harvesting materials like water or minerals from them – could be a crucial part of our future if we hope to travel to other planets such as Mars.

STARDUST research also examined how to get closer to asteroids, control their orbits and use their resources for our benefit.

Three industry training events were organised in collaboration with the project, which received funding from the EU’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions programme and also involved the training of young scientists.

“Besides the scientific results, we trained 15 young scientists who have now found jobs in academia and industry or have created their own spin-offs,” says Vasile. “In this respect STARDUST was a complete success as many of them continued along the path started in STARDUST.”

Project details

  • Project acronym: STARDUST
  • Participants: UK (Coordinator), Italy, Spain, Serbia, Germany
  • Project N°: 317185
  • Total costs: € 4 049 908
  • EU contribution: € 4 049 908
  • Duration: February 2013 to January 2017

See also

 

Convert article(s) to PDF

No article selected


loading


Search articles

Notes:
To restrict search results to articles in the Information Centre, i.e. this site, use this search box rather than the one at the top of the page.

After searching, you can expand the results to include the whole Research and Innovation web site, or another section of it, or all Europa, afterwards without searching again.

Please note that new content may take a few days to be indexed by the search engine and therefore to appear in the results.

Print Version
Share this article
See also
Project website
Project details


  Top   Research Information Center
 
Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Botswana
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  Gambia
  Georgia

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Botswana
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  Gambia
  Georgia