Over 500,000 pieces of human-made debris remain in space ever since Sputnik I, the first artificial satellite launched into orbit in 1975. There has since been a steady influx of orbital satellites, many of which have since been abandoned.
Researchers combined gecko-inspired adhesives and a custom robotic gripper to create a device for grabbing space debris. They have tested the gripper multiple times in zero gravity settings, including in the International Space Station. Even magnets cannot clean up all the debris in space because it can only work on metals or other magnetic objects. To finally clean up the mess, researchers from Stanford University and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory designed this neat robotic gripper to dispose of the debris.
The robot has special pads outfitted with thousands of rubber hairs made of silicone; this allows the robot to "grab" the debris it is cleaning. Stanford and NASA will have to get the gecko gripper tested outside the space station.