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NASA Space Science

NASA Wants To Zap Space Junk With Lasers 148

Posted by samzenpus
from the space-sharks dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "MIT Technology Review reports that various ideas have been floated for removing space junk, most of them hugely expensive, but now James Mason at NASA Ames Research Center has come up with the much cheaper option of zapping individual pieces of junk with a ground-based laser, to slow them down so that they eventually de-orbit. Mason estimates that a device to test the reversal of the Kessler syndrome could be put together for a million dollars, which would have to be shared by many space-faring nations, to avoid the inevitable legal issues that using such a device would raise. 'The scheme requires launching nothing into space — except photons (PDF) — and requires no on-orbit interaction — except photon pressure. It is thus less likely to create additional debris risk in comparison to most debris removal schemes,' writes Mason. 'Eventually the concept may lead to an operational international system for shielding satellites and large debris objects from a majority of collisions as well as providing high accuracy debris tracking data and propellant-less station keeping for smallsats.'"
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NASA Wants To Zap Space Junk With Lasers

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  • Re:Added bonus: (Score:4, Interesting)

    by blair1q (305137) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @01:20PM (#35506730) Journal

    Ability to blind populations on the ground in peacetime.

    This laser would have to be powerful.

    Satellites are irregularly-shaped and have flat reflective surfaces.

    See where I'm going with this?

    Not for long.

  • Re:Added bonus: (Score:4, Interesting)

    by interkin3tic (1469267) on Wednesday March 16, 2011 @01:40PM (#35506958)

    Ability to blind populations on the ground in peacetime. This laser would have to be powerful. Satellites are irregularly-shaped and have flat reflective surfaces. See where I'm going with this?

    Are you suggesting that governments will blind, say, protesters or peaceful people they don't like who happen to be staring at the lasers or at sattelites, which will reflect the beams into their eyes? Wow, that WOULD be a nightmare scenario, those evil bastards! So much wasted tax money! They should really stick to the low-tech grabbing them, putting them in a van, and burying them in an unmarked grave. It's SO much more efficient.

You know you've been spending too much time on the computer when your friend misdates a check, and you suggest adding a "++" to fix it.

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