Zap Space Debris With Telescope Laser On ISS

Tokyo’s Riken institute has proposed that a telescope with a mounted laser on the International Space Station (ISS) could be used to track, and then zap, small bits of space junk.

As designed, the system could be used on space debris a mere centimeter in size. They’re big enough to do damage, but too tiny to track from earth and evade in orbit.


(Very good 2013 ESA video on space debris)

The EUSO telescope, which will be used to find debris, was originally planned to detect ultraviolet light emitted from air showers produced by ultra-high energy cosmic rays entering the atmosphere at night. “We realized,” says Toshikazu Ebisuzaki, who led the effort, “that we could put it to another use. During twilight, thanks to EUSO’s wide field of view and powerful optics, we could adapt it to the new mission of detecting high-velocity debris in orbit near the ISS.”

The second part of the experiment, the CAN laser, was originally developed to power particle accelerators. It consists of bundles of optical fibers that act in concert to efficiently produce powerful laser pulses. It achieves both high power and a high repetition rate.

The new method combining these two instruments will be capable of tracking down and deorbiting the most dangerous space debris, around the size of one centimeter. The intense laser beam focused on the debris will produce high-velocity plasma ablation, and the reaction force will reduce its orbital velocity, leading to its reentry into the earth's atmosphere.

The group plans to deploy a small proof-of-concept experiment on the ISS, with a small, 20-centimeter version of the EUSO telescope and a laser with 100 fibers. “If that goes well,” says Ebisuzaki, “we plan to install a full-scale version on the ISS, incorporating a three-meter telescope and a laser with 10,000 fibers, giving it the ability to deorbit debris with a range of approximately 100 kilometers. Looking further to the future, we could create a free-flyer mission and put it into a polar orbit at an altitude near 800 kilometers, where the greatest concentration of debris is found.”

In his 1978 novel The Fountains of Paradise, Arthur C. Clarke makes exactly this suggestion; he calls it Operation Cleanup.

Fortunately, the old orbital forts were superbly equipped for this task. Their radars - designed to locate oncoming missles at extreme ranges with no advance warning - could easily pinpoint the debris of the early Space Age. Then their lasers vaporized the smaller satellites, while the larger ones were nudged into higher and harmless orbits.

Via Demonstration designs for the remediation of space debris from the International Space Station and AlphaGalileo.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/24/2015)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

NASA's Electric Motor Scooter
'...all the [lunar] prospectors took bicycles along as a matter of course'

Extremophile Microbe Loves Space Rocks
'... designed for rooting in the metal make-up of the asteroids for vital elements.' - F.E. Hardart, 1941.

Space Domes Over-rated? Science Fiction Authors Have Answers
'This was to be roofed over, sealed, and an atmosphere provided...' - Robert Heinlein, 1939.

NASA 'Broomstick' Recalls SciFi Ideas
'The appearance was enough like a giant witch's broom to justify the nickname.' - Robert Heinlein, 1942.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Via Virtual Reality, Mother Encounters Deceased Daughter
'But that barrier was going to melt away someday soon. The transhumanists had promised...'

Clothes That Do Photosyntheisis
'Clothes are no longer made from dead fibers of fixed color and texture...'

Stratuscent Electronic Nose
'It's picking up diphenyl compounds and tetra hydrocarbons.'

CIMON Companion Robot For Space Station Astronauts
'... in some departments their power is absolute.'

Qbit Robot Bartender Also Makes Coffee
'...he sipped the cognac that the robot bartender handed him.'

Moving Desks Not SciFi After All
'Charged with hope, he zipped from stack to stack...'

Cruise Autonomous Car Drives Aimlessly For An Hour
Convincing video shows progress (and limitations).

Fast Charging A Bus In 20 Seconds
'... in almost every town and village.'

Realistic Translation With The Waverly Labs Ambassador
'The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel fish.'

Biotech Firms Raised $Millions For Anti-Agathics (Longevity Drugs)
'Against Death doth no simple grow.'

Out-Of-Work Blue Collar Robots Need Your Help
'His legs relaxed with a rattle as he cut off all power below his waist... and ran his eye down the Help Wanted - Robot column...'

The Dawn Of Orbiting Manufacturing In 2020?
'It can be mass-produced only in the orbiting factories.'

Smart Contact Lenses Charges With 3D Printed Antenna
'He realized that it was not quite a clear lens.'

Segway S-Pod Fulfills Dire 1928 SciFi Prophecy
'Noiselessly, on rubber-tired wheels, they journeyed down the long aisles...'

Physicist Inspired By SciFi And Seeing Back In Time
'Here is the chronoscope... Scansion depends upon a special curved field...'

Airbnb Has AI Psychiatrist Looking At Your Facebook
'It's illegal to hold back information during a psyche test.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.