This iPhone application, Space Junk Sammy, is intended to be an educational application designed for Apple iPhones and iPads. This new concept educates kids in an innovative way about how orbital debris affects space missions.

Orbital debris is becoming a very significant concern for NASA and all Earth-orbiting space missions. Spacecraft in low-Earth orbit are in constant danger of being potentially damaged or destroyed by debris. High-profile spacecraft such as the International Space Station (ISS) and Hubble Space Telescope are dealing with orbital debris on a regular basis. Other basic educational concepts that are portrayed are low-Earth orbits, satellites, ISS, attitude control, and other facts that can be presented in between-level popup screens.

The Orbital Debris Cleanup game is relatively simple from the user’s technical standpoint. It is a 2D game where the user’s avatar is a satellite buddy, named Sammy, in orbit around Earth. Sammy is controlled by the user with the device’s gyroscope as well as touchscreen controls. It has equipment used for taking care of the space debris objects on the screen. Sammy also has a claw, a laser deflector, and hydrazine rockets to grab or push the debris objects into a higher orbit or into a lower orbit to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere.

The user interface shows Sammy and space debris objects constantly moving from left to right, where Sammy is trying to “catch” the debris objects before they move off the right side of the screen. Everything will be in constant motion to increase fun and add to the realism of orbiting the Earth. The satellite buddy is used to clean up the space debris and protect other satellites. Later levels will include a laser deflector and hydrazine rockets instead of a robotic claw to push the orbital debris into a higher orbit and out of the path of other satellites.

This work was done by Daniel Binebrink, Heng Kuok, Malinda Hammond, and Scott Hull of Goddard Space Flight Center. GSC-16612-1