Junk-fishing in space – IMPRESSO #19

In this edition: fishing for junk in space, underwater walls may save Venice from drowning and 3D printing the “augmented human”.


Junk-fishing in space

We all know that our planet has a problem with waste but as it turns out, the waste situation in space is equally worrying: About 7,500 tonnes of waste currently fly around above our heads. And this waste is a potential risk for satellites and other space infrastructure. A collision between trash and a satellite or spacecraft will create new space debris. With this debris also colliding, you get additional space debris. And so on. Now, a satellite from the UK with the matching name “RemoveDebris” will use a net and a harpoon to literally catch junk in space. Not sure if this is going to solve the waste problem in space for good, but at least it is a start. And with the democratisation of space in full swing, it is high time we address that challenge. Read more


Underwater walls may save Venice from drowning

While still in its early days, latest research tackles the problem of the collapsing Antarctic glacier and the subsequent rise of the sea level with a somewhat simple, yet radical idea: underwater walls. Building a gigantic physical barrier in front of a glacier is expected to prevent the warming ocean water from reaching the glacier ice’s base, and thus stop it from melting. At least for another 1.000 years, according to the researchers’ models. This seems like an immense upgrade to the compared 150 years (Venice is expected to vanish underwater in about 100 years!) that are expected today. Sounds too good to be true but most definitely worth researching. Read more


3D printing the “augmented human”

Electronic wearables are already here: Biocompatible materials allow electronics to fuse with our bodies seamlessly. The next step? Creating the “augmented human”. How about printing, say, a functioning flashlight directly onto your arm? Sounds crazy, right! But this will only be the beginning. Prof. Michael McAlpine lately demonstrated a method to print electronics easily and directly on skin with groundbreaking implications for further research, such as printing 3D printed bionic ears or even printing you a better liver than the one you would get from an organ transplant. Read the interview