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The janitor satellite cleans up space

February 17, 2012
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WASHINGTON — Leave it to the Swiss to launch a project that has the simple goal of keeping things tidy, according to NPR.

The Swiss Space Center''s CleanSpace One project is the start of an effort to clean up some of the space junk currently orbiting the Earth, the article stated.

According to the article, NASA''s Orbital Debris office estimates that that there are "approximately 19,000 objects larger than 10 centimeters (cm)" known to be in orbit, which can endanger working satellites — and create even more space junk when they collide.

As stated on the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne (EPFL) website, "After its launch, the cleanup satellite will have to adjust its trajectory in order to match its target''s orbital plane. To do this, it could use a new kind of ultra-compact motor designed for space applications that is being developed in EPFL laboratories. When it gets within range of its target, which will be traveling at 28,000 km/h at an altitude of 630-750 km, CleanSpace One will grab and stabilize it — a mission that''s extremely dicey at these high speeds, particularly if the satellite is rotating."

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