• Switzerland edition
 
Swiss aim to launch first space cleaner
YouTube Screenshot

Swiss aim to launch first space cleaner

Published: 15 Feb 2012 16:54 GMT+01:00
Updated: 15 Feb 2012 18:00 GMT+01:00

Swiss scientists announced on Wednesday plans to develop a machine that acts almost like a vacuum cleaner to scoop up thousands of abandoned satellite and rocket parts, cleaning up outer space.

The Swiss Space Centre at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), a top science university, announced the launch of CleanSpace as the first installment of a family of satellites designed to clear up space debris.

According to EPFL, "16,000 objects larger than 10 centimetres in diameter and hundreds of millions of smaller particles are ripping around the earth at speeds of several kilometres per second."

"It has become essential to be aware of the existence of this debris and the risks that are run by its proliferation," said Claude Nicollier, an astronaut and EPFL professor.

The space centre said it was moving beyond rhetoric to "take immediate action to get this stuff out of orbit."

Centre spokesman Jerome Grosse said two options are being considered for the cleaning satellites.

One is a machine that scoops up debris and then burns itself up in Earth's atmosphere.

The second is a model capable of retrieving the debris, which is then ejected into the atmosphere while the cleaner remains in space.

"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," explained centre 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."

EPL cited a 2011 study by Swiss Re insurance company showing that every year there is almost a one in 10,000 chance that an orbiting satellite measuring 10 square metres will collide with a piece of space debris larger than one centimetre.

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

2012-02-16 03:49:14 by DavidtheNorseman
Wonderful idea!
Today's headlines
Mega diamond to be auctioned in Geneva
A Sotheby's employee poses for pictures with the "Graff Vivid Yellow," at 100.09 carats one of the rarest yellow diamonds of its size. AFP Photo/Andrew Cowie

Mega diamond to be auctioned in Geneva

One of the world's largest yellow diamonds will go under the hammer in Geneva next month, with the Sotheby's auction house hoping to rake in up to $25 million for the gem. READ () »

Activist jailed for six years in Vasella case
Former Novartis chairman Daniel Vasella. Photo AFP/File

Activist jailed for six years in Vasella case

A British animal rights activist was jailed for six years on Thursday for her part in a Europe-wide campaign of intimidation targeting Huntington Life Sciences, an animal testing company linked to Swiss pharma giant Novartis. READ () »

Zoo faces cruelty charges over cub deaths
Kurt Nünlist was appalled by the deaths of two cubs at the Bern zoo (photo:zvg)

Zoo faces cruelty charges over cub deaths

A Swiss animal lover has filed a legal complaint against Bern zoo, accusing it of cruelty over the deaths of two bear cubs. Dählhölzli zoo could be fined under Switzerland’s tough animal protection laws. READ () »

Germans smuggle cash out of Switzerland
Customs officials found €573 million in illegal money in 2013. Photo: Emilian Robert Vicol

Germans smuggle cash out of Switzerland

The number of Germans smuggling money out of Switzerland rose dramatically last year. Customs officers on the German-Swiss border said on Thursday they made a find in almost every third car they checked. READ () »

Experts challenge e-cigarettes study
Photo: Denis Charlet / AFP

Experts challenge e-cigarettes study

Two Swiss medical organisations have rejected calls to overturn the ban on sales of electronic cigarettes in Switzerland. READ () »

Bern approves solution for Erasmus students
Students intending to go on an Erasmus exchange in 2014-15 will now be able to. Photo: Jirka Matousek

Bern approves solution for Erasmus students

Following the suspension of Switzerland's participation in the Erasmus student exchange programme, on Wednesday the federal government approved plans for a 23 million franc ($26 million) interim solution. READ () »

Kerry bound for Geneva talks on Ukraine crisis
US Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva last year. Photo: Pool/AFP

Kerry bound for Geneva talks on Ukraine crisis

US Secretary of State John Kerry left on Wednesday for Geneva for high-stakes talks on Ukraine, armed with the threat of more sanctions against Moscow if diplomacy fails, as tensions on the ground escalated sharply. READ () »

Credit Suisse investment bank woes hurt profits
Credit Suisse offices in Zurich. Photo: Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse investment bank woes hurt profits

Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse said on Wednesday that its first quarter net profit took a heavy hit as its investment bank reeled from slumping trading in bonds. READ () »

Ski champion announces same-sex marriage
Sylviane Berthod (right in each of the photos) and her partner. Photos: Facebook

Ski champion announces same-sex marriage

Former Swiss alpine ski champion Sylviane Berthod has announced her engagement to marry another woman in a public way — on her Facebook page. READ () »

UK blocks Swiss deal with EU on Croatia
EU headquarters in Brussels. Photo: Dominique Faget/AFP

UK blocks Swiss deal with EU on Croatia

The UK has scuppered, at least temporarily, an agreement in principle between Bern and Brussels over the free movement of people between Switzerland and Croatia, the Swiss broadcaster RTS says. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Former industrial zone transforms into Zurich’s trendiest spot
Tech
Swiss Solar Impulse team shows off new fuel-free aircraft
International
Suspect in Liechtenstein bank CEO murder case 'likely dead'
Sponsored Article
Caveman comedy comes to Zurich in English
Society
Innovative building provides refuge for hypersensitive tenants
Tech
VIDEO: Teenage boy sends Swiss army knife into stratosphere
International
Switzerland ranks second in world for social progress: report
National
Pharrell Williams set to perform in first Montreux jazzfest concert
Sport
American wingsuit flyer dies after Bernese Oberland accident
Business & Money
H&M plans hefty Swiss minimum wage for employees by 2015
International
Caterpillar accused by US senator of dodging taxes through 'Swiss plan'
International
Geneva man in Facebook page fight with Italian carmaker Ferrari
Advertisement:
International
Schumacher’s wife pays for 'medical suite' at Swiss family mansion
International
Aborted Swiss airlines take-off injures four at London airport
International
Swiss refuse asylum request from topless protest group founder
Business & Money
British expat former banker to head Swiss finance regulator FINMA
National
Swiss honey contains harmful plastic: TV consumer affairs report
Business & Money
Luxury watchmaker Patek Philippe threatens Geneva exit over taxes
Business & Money
World's largest watch fair opens in Basel amid uncertain times
International
'Fergie' credits hikes around Verbier mountains for recent weight loss
Etoiles de Montagne
Sponsored Article
How to summer holiday up a Swiss mountain
Swissbenefits
Sponsored Article
How to avoid Switzerland’s tax haven trap
International
Switzerland's residents are the happiest in the OECD: report
International
Swiss voters support bid to establish lofty minimum wage: poll
National
Switzerland's largest cities set to back regulated 'cannabis clubs'
Business & Money
Franc surges against other currencies on rising Ukraine concerns
Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

2,092
jobs available