If you are a follower of space flight then you undoubtedly know about the increasing problem of space junk: the mass debris formed from fifty years of manned and unmanned space flight, satellite launches and everything else we’ve thrown up there without a proper recovery plan.
A new proposal suggests that we might deploy a tungsten dust cloud that would adhere to the junk, increasing its mass and causing it to fall back to Earth – burning up on re-entry.
The article linked to suggests a problem with this – that the tungsten could coalesce into balls adding more debris to the pile. But I see a more fundamental problem.
How do you stop the tungsten from sticking to the wrong thing?
If we launch tonnes of tungsten dust into orbit, isn’t it just going to stick to everything up there including sensitive functional satellites?
Putting more junk into the skies doesn’t strike me as a rational way of reducing junk in the skies.