Cleanup Earth Space Junk

16,000+ pieces of broken and inactive satellites...
A real threat for Earth's working satellites

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Home » Science » Space Debris

Imagine a big Roomba in space to clean up NASA's orbital debris...

Space Debris Cleanup

Just imagine... a big Roomba in space. Don't know what a is? It's an autonomous robotic vacuum cleaner sold by iRobot. You can get one of those from Amazon for about $300 a piece. It cleans your house so you don't have to. LoL! Because it can recharge itself, you pretty much don't have to do anything. Neat invention, wouldn't you agree?

Getting back to our subject, a team of astronauts and professors from Switzerland decided we put up enough with NASA space junk and it's time to clean up the mess. And what better way to do it than building a robot spacecraft and launch it into orbit?

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 How the Janitor Satellite can help clean up Earth's space debris

Not an easy task to achieve, but considering that around 700 active satellites that are orbiting Earth -- proving us with television, phone, weather services and GPS -- are in constant danger of getting hit by this orbital debris, mainly old inactive satellites and bits of broken spacecraft, I'd say it's a worthwhile project. I'm all for less Earth space junk!

The very existence of this space debris is a bigger risk then we imagine. Not to us, directly, of course, but to our expensive equipment we place in Earth's orbit. To give an example, in 2009 a collision between the U.S. Satellite Iridium-33 with a disabled Russian satellite (Cosmos-2251) caused $50 million word of damage. Not to mention that the accident also left space a considerable amount of space debris behind.

Since Sputnik was first launched in the 50s, thousands of satellites were placed into orbit. Over 18,000 pieces of broken and inactive satellite are now orbiting Earth, threatening to hit our functioning satellites.

Although NASA is aware of Earth's space junk problem, they don't seem to be bothered by it. Much... CleanSpace One or the "Janitor Satellite" how they like to call it -- because it's basically a space debris removal robot -- is a university-funded project and not a multi-million NASA project. So they'll have to do with whatever resources they can gather.

clean up earth space junk

However, considering that insurance fees for satellites go up to $20 billion, there should be a few companies interested in donating for this space debris removal project. Nevertheless, getting into orbit is only the first step. CleanSpace One must be able to approach an object travelling at 28,000 km/h at an altitude of 700 km, grab it with its robotic arm, and then bring into back into the Earth's atmosphere.

NASA space debris and the robot cleaner will both disintegrate upon re-entry. Anyway, that won't happen until the Swiss laboratories get their funding, which might take a while: three to five years at least. I wish them good luck!

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