Kessler syndrome, aka the Kessler effect, describes a critical point that space garbage in low earth orbit could reach which would effectively trap us on the planet. Not only that, it would turn orbiting satellites into even more space garbage, which would be a bad thing for the modern world. As you can see in the picture below, there is already a large amount of fair sized junk in our orbit.
The RemoveDEBRIS spaceship was designed to help ensure this never happens, and it was launched into orbit and delivered to the ISS on the most recent Falcon 9 flight. Hackaday reports that the first test was successful, and the test target was successfully tracked and captured in the net that RemoveDEBRIS launched at it. This is just the first step, the next test would involve attaching a drag sail to the netted debris so it can be deorbited, in a manner that would more or less ensure the debris doesn't land in your bathroom or otherwise inconvenience us sitting at the bottom of the gravity well.
"To that end, RemoveDEBRIS deployed a CubeSat target and allowed it to drift approximately seven meters away. Once the target had moved to the prescribed distance, a net developed by Airbus was fired at it. When the center of the net struck the CubeSat, weights along its edges wrapped around the target, completely ensnaring it."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Equifax Slapped With UK's Maximum Penalty Over 2017 Data Breach @ Slashdot
- Microsoft releases list of features being removed from Windows 10 October Update @ The Inquirer
- A $1, Linux-Capable, Hand-Solderable Processor @ Hack a Day
- Patch for EE's 4G Wi-Fi mini modem nails local privilege escalation flaw @ The Register
- Put your tin-foil hats on! Wi-Fi can be used to guesstimate number of people hidden in a room @ The Register