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.
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, Space.com 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