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Scientists trying to shoot down space debris with laser

Scientists trying to shoot down space debris with laser

By BizLED Bureau

April 20, 2015: A group of scientists at Japan?s Riken Research Institute are developing a system to remove debris from the space orbit with the help of laser.

Satellites continuously revolve round the planets and spacecrafts, which create debris. The debris creates a hazard to satellites and spacecrafts. Scientists are trying to remove the debris with the laser.

The system will have two main components?efficient fiber optic-based laser, and a super wide field of view telescope. The telescope was developed to detect ultraviolet light that is produced by the ultra-high-energy cosmic rays entering the Earth?s atmosphere at night. But Toshikazu Ebisuzaki, the head of the project, realized that the telescope can be used to detect high-velocity debris as well.

When the telescope spots the debris, it instructs the laser to focus intense pulse of light onto it, destroying the debris by a process called plasma ablation.

During the process, one side of the debris gets heated and turns into plasma. When the plasma plumbed off to that side, it creates a thrust, and send the debris down in the atmosphere.

Currently, the system is being tested. The team will use a 20 cm telescope and a100 fiber laser to shoot down the debris. If this works well, then the full-scale version will be installed, which will have 3m telescope, a 10,000 fiber laser and a range of 62 miles or 100 km.


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