NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) are working together on an innovative project to launch the world’s first wooden satellite, called LignoSat, into orbit by 2024. This ground-breaking mission aims to address the issue of space debris by utilizing renewable and biodegradable materials, reducing the environmental impact of spacecraft re-entry.
The LignoSat satellite will be a small cube-shaped structure, measuring approximately 10 centimeters in diameter and weighing around 330 grams. It will be primarily constructed from treated Japanese magnolia wood, chosen for its lightweight and durable properties that can withstand the harsh conditions of outer space.
The satellite will be equipped with various sensors and instruments to evaluate the performance of wood in space and gather data on its potential applications. These experiments will focus on analyzing wood’s thermal conductivity, structural integrity, and ability to withstand radiation exposure.
By using wood in satellite construction, the LignoSat Mission aims to mitigate the problem of space debris. Currently, there are millions of human-made space junk pieces in Earth’s orbit, posing a threat to operational spacecraft and future space exploration. Wood, unlike other materials, incinerates into ash upon re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, leaving no harmful debris behind.
Extensive testing has confirmed the durability of wood in the extreme environment of outer space. Wood samples exposed to temperature fluctuations, intense cosmic rays, and solar particle bombardment over a ten-month period showed no signs of decomposition or deformation.
The LignoSat Mission represents a significant milestone in space technology, demonstrating the potential of wood as a sustainable and environmentally friendly material for spacecraft construction. This project holds promise for future applications, helping to reduce space debris and protect our planet.