New technology developed in the U to remove space debris – The Daily Utah Chronicle

(Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/planet-earth-220201/)

A new technology described as “omnimagnets” was developed by two University of Utah professors and will now be used by a New Hampshire-based robotics company to help clean up space debris.

The company, Rogue Space Systems Corporation, will use the new technology on its robots in several different ways such as repairing satellites or removing space debris.

According to mechanical engineering professor Jake Abbott, who helped develop the omnimagnet, the technology consists of three electromagnets that create a magnetic field to capture a piece of space debris and to repair or damage an object in space. To stop that tumble.

Tucker Harmans, an associate professor in the School of Computing, also helped develop the technology.

Abbott said that when a satellite or a piece of space debris needs to be used to repair or dismantle it, robotic devices run the risk of breaking the space debris or robotic arm, thus creating more debris. . Many more complications exist when trying to capture two objects orbiting Earth.

“But the problem with these objects is that they are flying long enough, potentially in Earth’s magnetic field and out of their own dynamics,” Abbott said.

Omnimagnets were developed to solve some of these issues – synchronizing a robotic satellite with a piece of space debris and then intercepting that object’s thunder. Abbott said some people have developed solutions to distract the objects, but preventing its fall was still an issue.

“The problem is, it’s just one step where this thing is falling, and you don’t know how to hold it securely,” Abbott said.

Hermans said the technology could also be applied to objects in space that are not magnetic, as well as pieces of space debris that the robot-operating teams have not designed and whose exact dimensions they do not know. Huh. Harmans has focused his research on this type of issue.

“I’ve been working in collaboration with Professor Abbott on some other projects, and we thought, well, what would be the point of manipulating objects where we haven’t designed the objects,” Hermann said. “At the same time, you know, he was teaching me about this phenomenon of eddy currents where we could manipulate, you know, non-magnetic objects that are conductive using magnetic fields.”

Abbott said it has been known that magnetic objects can be manipulated using magnets for a long time, but the special feature of this technique is that they can manipulate non-magnetic objects in space. Furthermore, they can do much more than just push and pull an object using these omnimagnets – they allow six degrees of motion.

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“I’m really interested in the question of whether it was possible for us to do this,” Abbott said. “Same level of manipulation of metals that were not magnetic.”

Abbott said his interest in manipulating non-magnetic objects also coincided with the growing issue of space debris, ultimately leading to the use of this new technology by Rogue.

Harmans said he is glad his technology is being put to use and hopes his research will continue to produce positive results for society.

“We are really hopeful that this will be like a large, long-running set of research that we do over the next few years that hopefully can make a real contribution to society and not just write a few papers. “

According to Abbott, the work being done is being funded by two separate grants from the US Space Force as well as a grant from the National Science Foundation.

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