Japan unveils world’s first wooden satellite

The researchers expect the wooden material will burn up completely when it re-enters the atmosphere. Photo: AFP

• Japanese researchers have built the world’s first wooden satellite named LignoSat.

• Each side of the experimental satellite developed by scientists at Kyoto University and logging company Sumitomo Forestry measures just 10 centimetres (four inches). 

• With development beginning in April 2020, LignoSat is crafted from magnolia wood, selected for its strength and workability after space exposure tests were conducted on cherry, birch and magnolia wood chips.

• They tested wood specimens and it showed no deformation after space exposure. The experiment results also confirmed no mass change in each wood specimen before and after space exposure.

• ‘LignoSat’ is a combination of the words ligno, a prefix meaning wood, and satellite.

• The researchers expect the wooden material will burn up completely when it re-enters the atmosphere, potentially providing a way to avoid the generation of metal particles when a retired satellite returns to Earth.

• The researchers aim to combat space clutter and promote more environment-friendly space activity.

• Conventional satellites pose air pollution risks due to metal particles generated during re-entry.

• The researchers plan to hand the satellite, made from magnolia wood, to space agency JAXA next week.

• It will be sent into space on a SpaceX rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in September, bound for the International Space Station (ISS).

• From there, the satellite will be released from the Japanese ISS experiment module to test its strength and durability.

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