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Space & Astronomy

Could giant lasers shoot down space debris ?

January 15, 2018 | Comment icon 7 comments



Could space-based lasers help to reduce the threat of space debris ? Image Credit: NASA
A new study by researchers in China has put forward a novel new way of tackling the problem of space junk.
Satellites and spacecraft are already running a daily gauntlet of spent rocket stages, screws, bolts and other objects that currently encircle our world. As time goes on, the problem will reach the point at which it will be too risky to send anything else up in to space due to the risk of a collision.

Now in a renewed bid to find a solution, scientists at the Air Force Engineering University in Xi'an, China have come up with a radical new solution that would involve using powerful space lasers to break the larger chunks of debris up in to smaller, less harmful pieces.

According to the study, a computer simulation of the system "provided (the) necessary theoretical basis for the deployment of (a) space-based laser station and the further application of space debris removal by using (a) space-based laser."
NASA estimates that there are currently over 100 million pieces of space debris smaller than 1cm, however even at this size there is still the risk of serious damage in the event of a collision.

Among the larger pieces being targetted by the Chinese team are objects such as spent rocket boosters left behind by previous launches and old satellites that are no longer in use.

Whether breaking these up in to smaller pieces is the answer however remains unclear.

Source: BT.com | Comments (7)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Jon the frog 5 years ago
Laser can push them down. When vaporizing/heating it, it create expanding gas and thrust. If the laser is in orbit it would work.†And it's a clever way to put a anti-missile system in orbit, lol.
Comment icon #2 Posted by pallidin 5 years ago
Whatever helps, I say... just don't inadvertently "blind" orbiting satellite sensors.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Hammerclaw 5 years ago
That solution would just compound the problem. Spacecraft equipped with lasers, however, could use them for communication and to deflect or vaporize incoming bogies.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Hankenhunter 5 years ago
I wonder what the ratio of ferrous/nonferrous metals are. Mostly aluminum I assume.† The main problem is that these objects are zipping every which way. Unfortunately,† I don't see any concrete steps to rectify this happening until something catastrophic occurs with loss of human lives involved. It would also have to be a global effort.† Hank
Comment icon #5 Posted by kobolds 5 years ago
with current technology it's not possible .† 2 problem 1. huge energy require 2. High heat † †
Comment icon #6 Posted by UFOwatcher 5 years ago
Wonder at what point the Earth will appear as a metallic planet to 'outsiders'?
Comment icon #7 Posted by schroedingerscat 5 years ago
This could be bad for me, as I have put a lot of thought and effort into making money with orbital garbage collection.† On the serious side, orbital debris is becoming a serious problem, and all potential solutions need to be considered.


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