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Switzerland to Launch Self-Destructing “Janitor” Satellite to Clean Up Space Junk
Posted By Brit Liggett On February 16, 2012 @ 6:28 pm In Environment,environmental destruction,green gadgets,Innovation,News | 1 Comment
In the last century earthlings have launched innumerable satellites into the atmosphere – most of which are still floating around messing with operational equipment circling the Earth. Fortunately, Switzerland just announced plans to launch a satellite in the next three to five years that will clean up all that space junk . Dubbed CleanSpace One , the $11 million satellite will remove unwanted objects from the atmosphere by grabbing a hold of them and jettisoning itself and the object into the Earth’s atmosphere, where they will both burn up upon re-entry.
“It has become essential to be aware of the existence of this debris and the risks that are run by its proliferation,” says Claude Nicollier, astronaut and École Polytechnique Fédéral de Lusanne professor. People have been talking about getting rid of this space junk for a while – an Italian scientist proposed a plan last year , NASA thought they might be able to zap the stuff with lasers  and DARPA came up with a plan to cannibalize a satellite to get rid of the junk , but none have followed through.
Enter the trusty Swiss – they’ll soon be taking this “rhetoric” and turning it into action with their CleanSpace One. Once launched, the satellite will orbit the Earth and will be able to adjust its trajectory once a piece of junk is spotted. The junk could be traveling at speeds of up to 17,000 miles per hour, so that adjustment must be precise and speedy in order to capture the stuff. CleanSpace One will be outfitted with a kind of claw — much like the one you’d find in an arcade game — that will reach out and snatch up the junk and then take its suicidal dive towards Earth. The atmosphere will most surely burn it up — as it did with this failed Russian satellite . The janitor satellite only gets one shot before it combusts, meaning the Swiss are going to have to make a whole heck of a lot of these to clean up the estimated 4 million pounds of debris  out there.
The Swiss see a future in this business and set to take a firm hold of the untapped industry. “We want to offer and sell a whole family of ready-made systems, designed as sustainably as possible, that are able to de-orbit several different kinds of satellites,” explains Swiss Space Center  Director Volker Gass. “Space agencies are increasingly finding it necessary to take into consideration and prepare for the elimination of the stuff they’re sending into space. We want to be the pioneers in this area.”
Via The Daily Mail 
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URL to article: http://inhabitat.com/switzerland-to-launch-self-destructing-janitor-satellite-to-clean-up-space-junk/
URLs in this post:
 space junk: http://inhabitat.com/index.php?s=space+junk
 CleanSpace One: http://actu.epfl.ch/news/cleaning-up-earth-s-orbit-a-swiss-satellite-to-tac/
 Italian scientist proposed a plan last year: http://inhabitat.com/italian-scientist-proposes-craft-to-clean-up-space-junk/
 thought they might be able to zap the stuff with lasers: http://inhabitat.com/nasa-working-on-laser-system-to-zap-and-displace-space-junk/
 came up with a plan to cannibalize a satellite to get rid of the junk: http://inhabitat.com/darpas-phoenix-spacecraft-cannibalizes-and-recycles-derelict-satellites/
 this failed Russian satellite: http://www.tucsonnewsnow.com/story/16454811/dead-russian-satellite-burn-up-in-earths-atmosphere-next-weekend
 4 million pounds of debris: http://inhabitat.com/gigantic-orbiting-balloons-could-solve-space-junk-problem/
 Swiss Space Center: http://space.epfl.ch/
 The Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2101556/Swiss-role-space-Janitor-satellite-Switzerland-clean-space-near-Earth-space-debris.html
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