Something new is on the horizon for old and decomission satellites. It comes from DARPA and is in essence, a scavenger robot designed to intercept, dismantle and rebuild satellites in space so that they can be either used for parts, or re-assigned as a more useful function, rather than simply floating around in space until it falls out of orbit.
Currently it’s a long way off, there are many technologies required to achieve such a feat that are simply not far along enough yet to be used, but the idea isn’t simply a novel one, it’s a serious project. Some of the things that need to be developed for this to work are as follows:
Robotic autonomy/artificial intelligence, machine vision, and on-orbit satellite refueling.
So a tall order as of this moment, but DARPA have released a video that shows they are progressing with this design (video to be posted in a link shortly).
The way it all works is simple in essence, but difficult in execution. The sattelite (named Phoenix) would take off from Earth with smaller satlets attached to it which would be removed without damaging whatever new satellite went up with the overall package. Phoenix would then rendezvous with old satellite in space, attaching these small satlets containing new lagacy hardware and cutting the original antenna so that the new lagacy hardware can take over and repurpose the satellite into a new orbit.
After reaching the new orbit, Phoenix would move on to the next satellite and perform the same task. DARPA are clearly serious about this, and Feb 8th has been touted as a date they may ask for newer/more technologies related to hardware, software and satlets.
Quantum gas which has a temperature lower than absolute zero is actually ‘hotter’ than absolute zero.