Wood you believe it? Japanese satellite made out of timber is set to launch this summer to combat space pollution | Space

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Carpenters might be just as important as engineers to the future of space travel as scientists prepare to launch the world’s first wooden satellite.

Japanese scientists have swapped aluminium for timber in a new satellite design planned to launch this summer.

The satellite, named Lignosat, will be made of Magnolia wood and will be about the size of a mug.

And, while it might not sound futuristic, using wood might help the space industry cut out harmful pollution.

If successful, the microsatellite could allow researchers to branch out to more eco-friendly building materials.

Japanese scientists plan to branch out from traditional materials to use wood in a new satellite to be launched this summer

Lignosat will essentially be a small wooden box with solar panels on the outside and electronic equipment on the inside.

It will either launch on an Orbital Sciences Cygnus supply ship to the ISS or a similar mission aboard a SpaceX Dragon later in the year.

Once in orbit, Lignosat will operate for about six months before being allowed to burn up in the atmosphere.

The researchers plan to include a number of experiments onboard designed to see how well wood holds up to the harsh conditions of space.

In low-Earth orbit, satellites experience temperatures ranging from -85°F (–65°C) to +257°F (125°C) depending on their altitude and exposure to the sun.

The worry is that the wooden panels in the satellite might warp or crack as the temperature shifts.

However, early research showed that wood kept in space-like conditions in the lab showed no measurable mass loss, signs of decay, or damage.

Encouraged by these results, the researchers sent samples of different kinds of wood up to the International Space Station where they were held in space for almost a year.

Once again, the wood showed very little sign of decay even after being exposed to extreme temperatures for twice the intended operating period of the satellite.

Samples of wood sent to the ISS…

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