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Space Australia Earth Science Technology

Aussie Lasers To Stop Satellite Collisions, Death 84

Posted by timothy
from the elaborate-postponement dept.
bennyboy64 writes "An Australian company is developing a laser tracking system that will help prevent collisions between satellites and space debris, ZDNet reports. 'The trouble is it's [debris] in orbit and travelling at orbital speeds, which means that it is travelling at about 30,000 kilometres an hour," said the CEO of the Australian company. 'If even a tiny little piece runs into a satellite it'll destroy it or punch a hole through a person if they're out there space walking.'"
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Aussie Lasers To Stop Satellite Collisions, Death

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  • by c0lo (1497653) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @11:20PM (#32922784)

    It seems to me the relative velocities would be small.

    If the trajectories are sort-of aligned, which doesn't need to be. I think you can imagine two bodies orbiting in opposite senses or on polar/equatorial orbits: the problem of resolving the relative velocity is left as a homework.

  • Not at All (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MacGyver2210 (1053110) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @11:36PM (#32922858)

    "track space junk and sell the data it collects to satellite owners and companies like NASA"

    So, basically, it doesn't *do* anything. They use it like...oh, a telescope or something, and then *sell* their observations.

    Yippee. Shouldn't a project funded by federal grants not be eligible to sell their findings but be required to provide them freely to the public? Seems a little wrong to me.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @11:51PM (#32922934) Journal
    Lasers of that power are certainly more expensive than the lower-power tracking variety; but I suspect that the major stumbling block would be political.

    There are, for instance, a number of influential entities with rather expensive satellites continually exposing fancy CCDs through even fancier optics. A laser powerful enough to blow vapor off of space junk, focused through the sort of optics used in ground surveillance satellites, shining on a piece of silicon specifically designed to be light sensitive. Yeah, that'd make the National Reconnaissance Office really happy...

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."

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