September 10, 2014

Where to grab space debris

Algorithm tested aboard the International Space Station analyzes the rotation of objects in space.

Objects in space tend to spin — and spin in a way that’s totally different from the way they spin on earth. Understanding how objects are spinning, where their centers of mass are, and how their mass is distributed is crucial to any number of actual or potential space missions, from cleaning up debris in the geosynchronous orbit favored by communications satellites to landing a demolition crew on a comet.