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Switzerland made "Janitor satellite" will clean up space waste

                  Space Junk (space waste, space trash, space litter or space garbage) is a term for the mass of defunct, artificially created objects in space, most notably in Earth orbit, such as old satellites and spent rocket stages.Space waste and Human Spacecraft. More than 500,000 pieces of waste, or “space junk,” are tracked as they orbit the Earth. They all travel at speeds up to 17,500 mph, fast enough for a relatively small piece of orbital debris to damage a satellite or a spacecraft.Every time two orbiting objects collide, they break up into thousands of more pieces of debris.

image credit: cnet

                   To combat this growing headache, Swiss scientists and engineers have announced the launch of CleanSpace One, a project to build the first in a family of “janitor” satellites that will help clean up space.The $11 million "janitor satellite" is under development at the Swiss Space Center in the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology (EPFL). 

                  Its launch would come within three to five years and its first tasks will be to grab two Swiss satellites that were launched in 2009 and 2010 but will be phased out of use, EPFL said.So far, CleanSpace One would be a one-shot deal, with each successor going up into orbit for a single capture mission. That would mean a heck of a long time before multiple satellites can make a dent in the floating junkyard.

Credit:  Cnet &Youtube 

                  Building the satellite means developing new technology to address three big problems, scientists say.The first hurdle has to do with trajectory: The satellite has to be able to adjust its path to match that of its target. EPFL said its labs are looking into a new ultra-compact motor that can do this.

Next, the satellite has to be able to grab hold of and stabilize the debris at high speeds. Scientists are studying how plants and animals grip things as a model for what would be used.

And, finally, CleanSpace One then has to be able to guide the debris, or unwanted satellites, back into Earth's atmosphere, where both the Swiss-made satellite and the floating garbage it collects would burn on re-entry.

Source: Cnet,livescience,cbsnews,Sambad