A Portales NM librarian is stepping into the scientific world of outer space.
Sean Shepherd, Eastern New Mexico University Instructional Research Center coordinator, is developing devices ( Adhesive Synthetic Trash Recovery Orbital Spheres) to clean up small manmade space debris in the lower earth orbit.
“I feel like since we made this mess, we should clean it up by bringing it back to earth, not pushing it out into space,” Shepherd said.
The space debris — which at the lower orbit is composed of objects such as paint chips and bolts — travels at high speeds, can damage space craft and sometimes falls to Earth, Shepherd said. He said collisions split the debris into more dangerous pieces. “It’s really a hazardous problem now,” Shepherd said.
A number of years ago, Shepherd said, he saw a video about space debris and was disgusted that people had “trashed space that way.” The catalyst to his project, though, came last fall as an article about collisions between satellites creating more debris.
Shepherd said the idea of his Adhesive Synthetic Trash Recovery Orbital Spheres popped into his head, and he developed the concept in his mind for about a week. “And basically they’re large, room-sized metallic foam balls surrounded by space-friendly adhesive,” Shepherd said. Portales News-Tribune.