Unknown to most people, there's a lot of clutter in outer space as hundreds of missions have left debris of satellites and spacecraft in the atmosphere. But for more than three years, engineers at the CleanSpace One project have been building a device that would be used to clean up these orbital remnants.
The project is a collaboration between eSpace, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne's (EPFL) Center for Space Engineering and Signal Processing 5 Laboratory and HES-SO University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland, according to Yahoo.
CleanSpace One plans to launch is first clean up mission by 2018 by entrapping the SwissCube.
Launched in 2009, the SwissCube is a very small satellite that measures only four inches by four inches in dimension and it is hard to detect. As it moves in space, its illumination changes, so it will be a challenge for CleanSpace One to find this. However, SwissCube is expected to die in space by 2018, which makes it a viable candidate for the first clean up, the news outlet reported.
Once CleanSpace One will be able to locate the small satellite in space, its next challenge would be to take SwissCube in its grasp. CleanSpace One's prototype comes in a cone form, with a net that unfolds and closes. It works to capture with a mechanism described as a "Pac-Man" solution for getting rid of space junk.
Once this is done, the next step would be for CleanSpace One and SwissCube to combust in the atmosphere, leaving none of its trace in outer space.
"It only takes one error in the calculation of the approach for SwissCube to bounce off CleanSpace One and rocket out into space." Said Muriel Richard-Noca, CleanSpace One's project head, via Mashable.
"This system is more reliable and offers a larger margin for maneuvering than a claw or an articulated hand," said professor Michel Lauria of the Hepia Lab in Geneva.
The engineers will continue to work on improving from the prototype and do more tests before the launch date.
Below is a video demonstration of what CleanSpace One can do.