Nano art and a solution for space junk from New Zealand

I don’t hear much about New Zealand usually but two items popped up on the radar yesterday. There’s a nano art exhibit opening on Aug. 11, 2010 in Christchurch at Our City O-Tautahi, corner of Worcester Boulevard and Oxford Terrace. Admission is free. More from the news item on Voxy,

A new exhibition at Our City O-Tautahi merges art with the atom in an effort to explain nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology, one of the key technologies of the 21st Century, is probably the least understood despite being well on its way to becoming an integral part of our everyday lives.

Now the University of Canterbury and the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Material and Nanotechnology, in collaboration with artists and scientists, is offering a better understanding of nanotechnology through art.

Their exhibition: The Art of Nanotechnology at Our City O-Tautahi from Wednesday 11 August through to Friday 10 September presents intriguing nanotechnology images and art inspired by nanotechnology.

Researchers from around New Zealand were asked to enter the most interesting images from their work in a competition, and the best images are displayed in the exhibition. The MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, which is a government-funded Centre of Research Excellence, kindly donated $2000 in prizes.

Alongside these images are works from artists Claire Beynon (in a collaboration with biologist Sam Bowser), Nicola Gibbons, Sue Novell and Robyn Webster. These artists attempt to shed light on the incredible and tiny new worlds of nanotechnology. Each have selected one little corner of a vast subject, and examined it up close, just as a scientist uses a microscope.

This is one of a series of events being put on by the University of Canterbury this August. You can read more here.

Space junk

As for the space junk item, that comes from an article by Kit Eaton in Fast Company. 1992 was the first I heard that outer space was in fact a floating junk yard. For example, when satellites and other space equipment stop functioning, it’s easier to send a new model up then try and repair them. I imagine that in the 18 years since the situation has gotten worse. Amongst other ideas on how to clean things up, there’s this one (from the Fast Company article, The Most Beautiful Way to Clean Up Space Junk: A Giant GOLD Balloon),

Dr. Kristen Gates has one idea, and it’s beautiful and simple. It’s dubbed GOLD–the Gossamer Orbit Lowering Device–and it’s just been revealed at the “Artificial and Natural Space Debris” session of the AIAA Astrodynamics Specialists Conference.

GOLD is not much more than a football-field sized balloon (made of gossamer-thin but super-tough material, a little like solar sails) that is flown into orbit deflated in a suitcase-sized box and then fastened to a dead satellite. It’s then inflated to maximum size, and the huge bulk of the balloon massively increases the atmospheric drag that satellites experience up there in the void. This drag is due to the rare molecules of gas that hover around above the fringe of the atmosphere, and it’s the same drag that resulted in the premature deorbiting of the famous Skylab satellite in the 1970s, when the mechanics of orbital drag weren’t as well understood. The drag acts to slow a satellite in its orbital path, and then simple orbital mechanics means the satellite descends into the atmosphere where the denser air heats it to the point it burns up.

I guess gold is my other theme for this post.

1 thought on “Nano art and a solution for space junk from New Zealand

  1. Pingback: NanoSail-D cleans up space junk « FrogHeart

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