The Drag Augmentation Deorbiting System Nano (ADEO-N) – a 3.6-sq-m aluminium-coated polyamide membrane attached to four metallic booms – deployed from a 10 cm box aboard the ION Satellite Carrier.

Launched in 2021, this is a satellite platform flown by D-ORBIT in Italy, used to deliver miniature ‘CubeSats’ into their individual orbits.

By increasing the overall area of the satellite, the ADEO-N sail will increase the gradual air drag acting upon it from atoms at the top of the atmosphere, and speed up its atmospheric reentry accordingly.

The technology was developed by HPS in Germany through an ESA General Support Technology Programme project, developing and testing promising space innovations. Previous versions have already been deployed but this in-flight test represented the final technological proof-of-concept for the ADEO family.

ESA structural engineer Tiziana Cardone oversaw the project: “The ADEO-N sail will ensure that the satellite will reenter in around one year and three months, while otherwise it would have reentered in four to five years.”

The aim is to contribute to ESA’s Zero Debris Initiative – as ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher has remarked: “If you bring a spacecraft to orbit you have to remove it.

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