Check out the description of a real world situation below, shared by the American Society of Engineering Education’s publication “Prism” February 2021 issue. What types of engineers had to come together to make this happen?

“Debris is a major peril in low orbit. Some 152 million bits of broken or destroyed spacecraft – some as tiny as 1 millimeter, others larger than softballs – are circulating at speeds of up to 17,500 mph, posing a threat to the roughly 1,800 satellites now aloft as well as to thousands more scheduled. Engineers have proposed several potential high-tech garbage collectors. But Japanese researchers may have a simpler way to both protect and prevent satellites from spreading shards in the first place: build them out of wood. The BBC reports that a research team led by Takao Doi, a former astronaut and an engineering professor at Kyoto University, is working with Sumitomo Forestry, a Japanese logging company, to develop a prototype housing. The idea is that once the satellite’s working life ends, it could fall back into the atmosphere and safely burn and disintegrate. Popular Science further quotes the newspaper Nikkei Asia as noting that wood does not interfere with the electromagnetic waves that satellites use to communicate, so antennas and other instruments could be placed inside a wooden compartment. That still invites the question of what happens to the electronic components upon reentry. For now, however, researchers are testing various types of wood – the exact types are an “R&D secret,” a company spokesman tells the BBC – in extreme environments here on Earth. If the results are A-Oak-Kay, the team hopes to launch a trial wooden satellite by 2021.”

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