The amount of debris in Earth’s orbital areas has been on a steady increase since the Information technology revolution. Contrary to common belief, many of these orbiting machines have a limited operational life, and they mostly become dysfunctional after twenty years. The satellite is decommissioned and left to rust in space after that, but the problem is that there is no atmosphere at that height to eat them away. So they just float there as useless junk and add to our concerns. This Swiss research institute like many others, has been working to get rid of this expired machinery in space. This junk munching satellite is the first attempt by the company and seems to be a great one!
The CleanSpaceOne, as they have named it, uses a folding conical net to gather the space garbage. When enough of it has been stored, and the satellite can’t take any more, it will return to the Earth essentially burning all contents in the way. The design is currently in a testing stage, and it will become even more crucial once space gets cramped with more defunct satellites.
The first target of the Pacman satellite will be the defunct SwissCube that is a 10×10 cm simple communication satellite. The satellite is spinning as it moves, so it is very difficult to think of any other way but this giant trap. What makes it more difficult is that the spinning effect will make it very difficult for the satellite to be tracked through vision only. For this purpose, advanced algorithms will determine the angle of the sun, the speed of its rotational and translational motion. High dynamic range cameras will also be used to locate it precisely and eat it as a whole.
Once the cube has been successfully approached, it will extend the net and close it down with the target inside. Then, the journey back will lighten up the cube. The project is being developed by Western Switzerland University of Applied Sciences, and you can see the good work they are up to in this short video: