The International Space Station makes adjustments several times a year to avoid disastrous collisions with such space junk.
Diagram of gecko material gripper The two tiles of material with opposite microwedge directions are pulled together to create adhesion.
Gecko-inspired robot can catch space junk
Unlike other grippers using pneumatic pumps or adhesives like duct tape, the gripper uses tiles of material inspired by gecko feet.
The load-sharing system also allows these grippers to be scaled for many different purposes—from foot-like pads on a climbing robot, to a space shuttle docking stabilizer.
An astronaut can let go of an object with a release button, and the gripper detaches cleanly without disturbing it.
[Worst Space Debris Events of All Time]Collisions with orbiting debris have already led to millions of dollars in losses.
For instance:* Conventional robotic hands are not suited for large, smooth pieces of space debris.
Despite the hazards that space junk poses, space debris is not collected today, in part because technologies used to grab on to items on Earth often do not perform well in space, the researchers said in their study.
Jiang cautioned that any potential future missions to rendezvous with space debris would likely be very complex.
The device was able to successfully snag floating objects in microgravity flights on both Earth and the International Space Station.
collected by :Molly Tony