VICTOR HABBICK VISIONS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY VICTOR HABBICK VISIONS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Satellite disposal. Computer artwork of the Terminator Tether Satellite Deorbit System in use. This system will reduce the amount of debris in low-Earth-orbit. The terminator tether is bolted to the satellite before launch and remains dormant during the life of the satellite. When commanded to deorbit the satellite, it releases a 5- kilometre-long tether that interacts with the ionospheric plasma and geomagnetic field in the Earth's atmosphere. This produces the current seen running along the tether (centre right). These currents cause forces that lower the satellite over a period of weeks or months until it is vaporised in the Earth's upper atmosphere.
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