Sen: Space debris.

Sen: Pew-Pew! Using Space Lasers to Zap Space Debris

Sen: Pew-Pew! Using Space Lasers to Zap Space Debris

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Sept. 8 2015 12:59 PM

Sen: Pew-Pew! Using Space Lasers to Zap Space Debris

space debris
Of all known human-made objects in orbit around the Earth, 65 percent is debris.

Drawing by ESA

Space debris is a growing problem. These little bits of orbiting junk—tools dropped by astronauts during EVAs, nuts and bolts from the deployment of satellites, and so on—are moving a dozen times faster than a rifle bullet, and pose a real threat to the International Space Station and other assets. Even a fleck of paint can be seriously harmful when it’s moving at 25,000 kph relative to you.

To fix this problem, a team of scientists has come up with an idea: Use a telescope planned to go on board ISS anyway to find the junk, then use a bundled fiber laser to zap it.

Advertisement

I have the details in my twice-monthly column for Sen.com. The blogs there are subscription-only for five bucks a month, about the amount you spend on the healthy breakfast cereal you promise yourself you’ll eat when you’re shopping at the grocery store but then throw out when it gets stale a month later. And in this case, you get stuff that’s healthy for your brain and curiosity.

As always, news, pictures, and features there are free.