Europe is sending a robot to clean up space. Why is the junk there in the first place?

Europe is sending a robot to clean up space. Why is the junk there in the first place?

by Jessie Yeung, CNN Business

A self-destructing robot will be sent into orbit on the world’s first space cleanup mission, European scientists announced Monday, a fresh approach to fixing up the galaxy’s junk graveyard.

Our orbit is filled with garbage, including chunks of dead satellites, discarded rockets, and paint flecks that have fallen off them. The mission, named ClearSpace-1, will take the first step in tidying up this extraterrestrial wasteland, according to the European Space Agency (ESA).

A four-armed robot, developed by Swiss startup ClearSpace, will latch onto debris before diving back down to Earth, where both machine and junk will “burn up in the atmosphere,” according to the ESA.

The robot’s mission will target a cone-shaped part of an ESA rocket that was left in space in 2013. If all goes well, follow-up missions will target larger objects, before eventually trying to remove multiple pieces of junk at once.

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