You'll Never Guess What This Bizarre-Looking Device Is 

By Jamie Condliffe on at

This device will not shine your shoes. Nor will it fix up your hair. In fact it’s a prototype asteroid cleaner, that’s been specially designed to help collect dust and debris in the far-flung reaches of our solar system.

Developed by Added Value Solutions for the European Space Agency, the device overcomes a problem that we don’t have to think about too much here on Earth: Low gravity. If you use a drill or scoop to collect a sample on a low-gravity asteroid, it’s possible to push yourself away from the surface. Instead, this device uses three sets of rotating brushes that sweep dust into a central, hermetically sealed storage container. It’ll gather 113 grams in 20 seconds.

The device is going to be tested on a series of parabolic flights where it’ll be tasked with sweeping up debris from microns to inches in size. If it does well, it may one day make it into space. [ESA]