It’s like playing a high role in Missile Command.
Australian startup EOS Space Systems says it has finally completed the construction of a powerful laser capable of mining dangerous space debris out of orbit ‰ all the way to the Earth’s surface.
After seven years of development, the company says it can accurately track and sniff debris orbiting the planet from Australia’s Mt. Stromio Observatory, 9News reports. It’s an impressive feat, given that garbage can travel at speeds of up to 17,500 miles per hour. But if it succeeds, the laser could make space safer for satellites, and especially for human astronauts, without the need to launch risky cleaning missions.
The system actually consists of two lasers. The first, a bright orange ray, targets certain pieces of space debris, and the second helps to line up the frame, according to 9News. Then a second laser, far more powerful than the first, launches it out of orbit into deeper space.
“It’s the only type of laser we’ve just grown up with [the] the right scale and power so we can map the atmosphere and then use maps made hundreds of times a second to correct the laser beams on earth to propagate perfectly into space, ”said EOS Systems CEO Ben Greene 9News. “This will allow us to apply very strong laser beams to move space debris in space and make space navigation much safer.”
The laser, once fully online, makes the orbital debris cleaning process much easier than other plans currently under construction or under investigation.
Almost every other plan to clear the sky, whether it’s wasting garbage with a large harpoon, clearing it with a magnetic hook for catching it, or even equipping spaceships with lasers to melt garbage, involves launching something else into orbit. By comparison, blasting hazardous space debris from orbit for Earth’s safety sounds much more appealing.
READ MORE: The world’s first laser to remove deadly space debris from orbit [9News]
More about space debris: China crashed spacecraft on the moon so as not to become space debris
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