Mission 2: Mitigating outer space junk

Before calling these relics ‘space junk’, it must be remembered that mass and space exploration are not compatible: a spacecraft can’t afford trailing unnecessary load, so items that are no more useful at one point into the mission become dead weight and must be shaved off quickly. As of today, there is no other viable option to guarantee mission success and there are no means to retrieve them.

Space junk can be classified into three groups:

  • Visual pollution: items that are inert and immobile, for instance alumium parts or soft bags, in sterile environments, i.e. irradiated surfaces like the Moon;
  • Chemical pollution: spacecraft batteries and propellant tanks for example that are still loaded in probable organic worlds such as Venus, Mars and Titan;
  • Hazardous objects: items whether chemically active or not that are travelling at orbital speeds, thus representing a threat not only to space navigation but also to the surface of celestial bodies.

  • Both latter cases must be emphasized and remediated to mitigate consequences. This catalogue is also a first step in this direction.