Casting the net | Breakthrough Funding

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Casting the net

Our responsibility to tidy up the planet doesn’t stop when we hit the ozone layer

For all the human race’s many remarkable traits, we really are a messy lot. Some would argue that the negative environmental impact we’ve had on Planet Earth and our fellow inhabitants far outweighs all the scientific, industrial and cultural achievements we’ve made over the millennia.

Of course, this isn’t news to us and efforts to scale back the devastation that human life has wrought on the Earth have been going on for a long time. Currently, administrations all over the world are aggressively pushing the renewable energy agenda, while the fight against unnecessary plastic use gathers momentum every day.

But although our plans to cut down on future emissions, waste and pollution are certainly progressive, there’s still the mess we’ve already made to be dealt with. And if you thought that we’d managed to contain our junk within our own atmosphere, you’d be wrong.

Since the human race began its forays into space in the 1940s, our orbit has started to get cluttered up with any amount of rubbish – or space debris, as it’s known – from a variety of sources. Bits of old satellite and rocket, tools dropped by astronauts; NASA estimates that there could be half a million bits of stuff floating around up there.

In an effort to start cleaning it up, the Surrey Space Centre at the University of Surrey spent six years developing an enormous net and harpoon system to gather up the trash. The RemoveDEBRIS technology has just successfully completed a test run, so it looks like the attempt to pick up our space litter could actually work out.

Are you working on an innovation to clear up or prevent waste, either on this planet or beyond? Get in touch with us on 0800 772 0800 – we might even be able to help you claim R&D tax credits for your innovative work.

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