In all the decades we’ve been shooting stuff into space, we’ve left behind a whole lot of junk floating around our lovely, blue marble. Turns out Pac-Man could be the answer to making our skies friendly once again.
Go ahead and get the terrible Pixels joke out of your system, because we’re not literally talking about sending a giant Pac-Man into orbit to “NOM NOM” on all the space debris. But a new space-cleaning satellite could borrow a few of Pac-Man’s signature moves to get rid of some of that clutter. Dubbed the Clean Space One project, the design is basically a net and a cone, which extends out to grab junk and trap it.
A proposed test mission in 2018 is aiming to bag a small cubesat satellite called SwissCube. Once successfully trapped, the goal is to bring the two craft together to burn out in the atmosphere. Thus: One less piece of junk floating around in space. If that goes well, the team hopes to continue honing the design to hopefully take out even more debris in the future.
The project is being led by 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.