This Orbiting ‘Pac-Man’ May Help Solve The Space Junk Problem

There’s a lot of stuff floating around the Earth, including dangerous space junk.

In fact, more than 500,000 pieces of debris — from defunct satellites and tools that drifted away during spacewalks to even frozen droplets of urine — are orbiting our planet. The junk poses a huge collision-risk to current and future space missions.

And now, scientists have a new way to clean up all of that trash.

Researchers from Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne have proposed what they are calling the Clean Space One Project to remove debris from orbit by using a “Pac-Man” satellite.

What is that? Well, the satellite looks like this:

When it encounters space debris, it acts like this:

The video game-inspired design was chosen over a claw shape, as the most likely to be able to perform a precisely-timed capture, reported.

The scientists plan to test out the design by sending the Pac-Man craft on a mission to collect and dispose of the small, now obsolete, SwissCube satellite that was launched in 2009. After it gobbles up the satellite, the Pac-Man will burn up in the atmosphere with its catch.

Though the mission sounds straight forward, but it will take careful coordination.

SwissCube is not only a 10-centimeter by 10-centimeter object that’s tough to grasp, but it also has darker and lighter parts that reflect sunlight differently,” Christophe Paccolat, a PhD student working in the institute’s Center for Space Engineering and Signal Processing 5 Laboratory, said in a written statement. “These variations can perturb the visual approach system and thus also the estimates of its speed and distance.”

This is not the weirdest space clean-up method that has been suggested. Some scientists have proposed <a target="_blank" —> Read More