#2326: Swarmeteor

It seems that penguins in a huddle move around so that each one has to face the Antarctic wind for only a fraction of the time.

We now have cubesats theoretically capable of exhibiting such swarm-like behaviour in space.

swarmeteor

Today’s invention is a way for a large number of such small satellites to safely re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere, together, rather than burning up individually.

These mini spaceships would fly in close formation so that those at the front would be friction-heated by the atmosphere.

They would then fire retro rockets differentially and thus flow from front to back of the swarm, being continuously replaced at the front (a) by cooler ones from the rear (b).

Those devices with the most precious samples or data could be allowed more time at the back or even inside the swarm, in order to minimise the thermal damage to them.

These systems could then be recovered and reused.