In 2023, a wooden satellite will be launched into space to know more about how the organic material holds up in the vacuum outside our atmosphere.
Compared to metal ones, a wooden satellite would give a harmless alternative, and will reduce space junk significantly.
Kyoto University space experts and researchers, which includes a Japanese astronaut, have teamed up with a company close to 400 years old – Sumitomo Group, on the testing and developing of different special woods, which will do well in space’s harsh environment.
A press release translated about the innovation, called the LignoStella project, reveals some importance of making use of wood:
Since wood transmits electromagnetic waves and geomagnetism, if the artificial satellite is made of wood, an antenna and attitude control device can be installed inside the satellite, and the satellite structure can be simplified. The wooden artificial satellites that enter the atmosphere after the operation is completed will be completely burned out. This will lead to the development of cleaner and environmentally friendly artificial satellites that do not generate minute substances (alumina particles) that can be a source of [air pollution] during combustion.
Takao Doi, a researcher at the Space Research Unit of Kyoto University, is worried about how this will affect life down below. In an interview with told the BBC, he said:
We are very concerned with the fact that all the satellites which re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere burn and create tiny alumina particles which will float in the upper atmosphere for many years.Takao Doi
Presently, about 6,000 satellites are moving around the earth, and many thousands more in the near future, which include more than 1,000 from the universal internet access program of Elon Musk – Starlink, alone.
For many years, wood has served humans positively, and so applying its versatility in space right now, seems to be the right thing.
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