QARMAN, a Belgian hero in space
The satellite mission involves understanding how certain space debris returns to Earth and burns up in the atmosphere. This is also the first time that a nano-satellite survives when returning into the atmosphere.
There are two types of debris in space. Satellites that are still operational and may be brought back into the atmosphere, and those that are orbiting around and polluting Earth's outskirts. These represent a huge threat to space missions. To limit the amount of this debris in space, it is therefore vital to study the way in which it disintegrates in the atmosphere.
And this is where QARMAN can help! This satellite, created by the Belgian companies Melotte and Voxdale, was launched with a Falcon-9 by Space X Company from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The CubeStat was loaded into a Dragon capsule that has already been used twice before.
It will allow researchers from the von Karman Institute to study how space debris falls back down to Earth and how it disintegrates. This technical feat is made even more complex by the fact that the small cube-shaped satellite will have to collect information just before it enters the atmosphere, a phase of the mission that scientists consider critical.
This ambitious project is funded in part by the ESA and the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office, and may give us a clearer view of our skies!