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    The Wrangler

    Tuesday, June 4, 2019 Last Updated 2019-10-24T10:19:00Z
    The universe can be a dangerous place. Many things can snuff out life on our entire planet without too much effort: gamma-ray bursts, supernovas, colliding galaxies, and more.

    And, of course, one threat already struck our planet in the past—asteroids.

    The Earth has been hit by asteroids during its 4.5 billion years of existence, and it is likely that it will be hit again in the future.

    It might happen tomorrow (it won’t) or in a billion years, but people at NASA are already looking into solutions for this problem.One solution is called the Weightless Rendezvous And Net Grapple to Limit Excess Rotation (WRANGLER) system, courtesy of Tethers Unlimited, Inc.

    This net and tether system could be deployed by a satellite to capture and de-spin an asteroid, rendering it (mostly) harmless.

    The program has already been accepted to the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Program, and it is being developed as a simpler, more cost-effective alternative to NASA’s own Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM).There are two main components to the system.

    One is the GRASP net capture device, and the other is the SpinCASTER tether/winch mechanism.

    By using the leverage of a tether, a small satellite would be able to reduce the angular momentum of a much larger object.

    The WRANGLER has already proven successful in a microenvironment and is currently being developed to full scale.


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