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Swarming Hedgehog Robots to Explore Space
1/14/2013

A robot swarm has been developed by Stanford University as a mothership-sphere system to explore planetary moons and asteroids. (Source: Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Stanford University)
A robot swarm has been developed by Stanford University as a mothership-sphere system
to explore planetary moons and asteroids.
(Source: Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Stanford University)

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Cabe Atwell
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Re: Hedgehog sweepers?
Cabe Atwell   6/11/2014 12:37:35 AM
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They already have 'space custodians' according to the anime Planetes. Then again, with the destruction of the space shuttle Explorer and the Hubble Space Telescope in Gravity, space hedgehogs would be ideally suited for the task of cleaning up the high-speed debris. 

warren@fourward.com
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Re: Hedgehog sweepers?
warren@fourward.com   4/25/2013 8:28:41 AM
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You are behind the times, Scott. I, myself, have saved the galaxy numerous times. We space warriors don't have time to clean up space trash or save the environment when there are so many forms of intelligent space monsters trying to invade the earth. It takes all our waking hours to keep humans safe.

warren@fourward.com
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Re: Hedgehog sweepers?
warren@fourward.com   4/25/2013 8:28:32 AM
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You are behind the times, Scott. I, myself, have saved the galaxy numerous times. We space warriors don't have time to clean up space trash or save the environment when there are so many forms of intelligent space monsters trying to invade the earth. It takes all our waking hours to keep humans safe.

Scott Orlosky
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Re: Hedgehog sweepers?
Scott Orlosky   1/26/2013 11:07:26 PM
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Great idea, Willliam.  What we need is to harness the excess energy and time of gamers to clean space debris, consume poisons from the environment, optimize freight routings and a host of logistic endeavors. Just turn them into games and the problems would be solved in no time.

William K.
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Re: Hedgehog sweepers?
William K.   1/17/2013 7:45:02 PM
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I think that I detect a lack of information about what is needed to track a chunk of debris traveling at 1700MPH, and perhaps a need to investigate the kinetics involved with deflecting such a particle.

For a much simplified example, imagine attempting to defrlect a golf ball that has just been hit by a strong golfer using a heavier driver club. There would be quite a few challenges.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Hedgehog sweepers?
Ann R. Thryft   1/16/2013 4:37:12 PM
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williamweaver, that's a brilliant idea. Everybody wins.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Super cool
Ann R. Thryft   1/16/2013 12:18:20 PM
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Come to think of it some technology may have been inspired by fantasy novels, as well as sci-fi. For instance, I'm re-reading Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and the Palantir might be seen as a wireless video-conferencing system.

williamlweaver
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Re: Hedgehog sweepers?
williamlweaver   1/16/2013 11:43:00 AM
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You are spot on, freisl. I suggest we take it another step and add Crowdsourcing and Gamification. I say we have a company launch a low-orbit satellite that contains a fantastically-large supply of Hedgehog Sweepers that can be controlled from a smartphone app here on Earth. Users would download the app and then aim and control the trajectory of a Hedgehog Sweeper to nudge a piece of space junk into the atmosphere using an app having game play similar to Angry Birds. In-app upgrade purchases of additional sensors and controls along with advertising would help to defray the costs of the entire program while performing a needed service to humanity's future endeavors in space. I think I would even be willing to pay $2.99 for the Angry Hedgehogs app...

freisl
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Re: Hedgehog sweepers?
freisl   1/15/2013 10:35:57 PM
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William K is right, catching debris is too expensive even if it's remotely possible. But he also points to a lower cost concept.

What if low mass debris is not caught, but redirected, perhaps to a "burn on re-entry" trajectory. Then the little sweeper goes off to nudge another little nut or bolt to oblivion.

(I'm imagining it would know enought not to step in front of one coming toward it.)

All the while it could be relaying sensory data as its primary objective.

William K.
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Re: Hedgehog sweepers?
William K.   1/15/2013 9:00:04 PM
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There are several serious challenges relative to cleaning up space debris, and several of those challenges are quite daunting.

First, those chunks of whatever are all orbiting quite rapidly, and they weigh quite a few pounds. So intercepting them is a lot like catching large bullets. Consider what it would take to catch a baseball moving at 1000MPH. Many of the fragments are that heavy, and moving quite a bit faster.

Next, these chunks of junk are in various orbits, they are not just sitting there waiting to be captured. And when they are caught, consider the amount of energy transferred. So after acquiring one of these targets, catching it could be very exciting. Then there is the question of what to do with it once you have it. At least one sattelite was designed to capture one item and then burn up during re-entry. Quite effective but very expensive.

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