Japan to launch 1 wooden satellite in the world

The wooden satellite survived a year in space without suffering damage

(sustainabilityenvironment.com) – Japan is about to launch the world’s first wooden satellite after a year-long test phase at the International Space Station (ISS). Test passed with flying colors for the satellite: the magnolia wood of which it consists, in fact, has proved super resistant to the extra-atmospheric conditions, as expected by its creators of the University of Kyoto. The absence of oxygen and living organisms that trigger the rotting process allows the wood to pass the test of space unscathed.

Wooden satellites against space waste

Behind the attempt to test different biodegradable materials as alternatives to the metals traditionally used for the construction of satellites is the theme of the damage caused by space waste. “All satellites that fall into the Earth’s atmosphere burn and create tiny particles of alumina, which will float in the upper atmosphere for many years,” explains Takao Doi, a space engineer at Kyoto University. These particles, according to some recent studies, could damage the ozone layer. “Eventually, it will affect the Earth’s environment”.

Also, there will be more and more space waste in the coming years. In low orbit alone, in 2022, the fragments larger than 10 cm were already over 36 thousand. The smaller ones, probably, about 1 million. In addition to releasing particles that can interfere with the Earth’s climate system, even remaining in orbit creates problems of light pollution (which, in addition to preventing us from seeing the starry sky from the ground, compromise astronomical research).

The idea of focusing on wooden satellites could solve these problems. The prototype assembled by researchers from the University of Kyoto and the company Sumitomo Forestry christened LignoSat, was first tested in the laboratory and subjected to conditions similar to those present in space. Then it was the turn of the test in real conditions. The wooden satellite, about the size of a hand, was brought to the ISS and exposed to solar radiation and the conditions it would find in orbit. Magnolia wood has proven to be the most resistant of the tested essences.

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