Ground-based lasers will fire at space debris in Earth’s orbit

In Japan, a group of scientists is working on an innovative system that uses laser beams fired from Earth to destroy space debris. The increase in the volume of space debris in Earth orbit poses a serious threat to satellites and manned objects such as the International Space Station (ISS) and the Chinese Tiangong.

Space debris in the artist’s image. Source: Spacejunk3D, LLC

Space debris, which consists of spent rocket parts and decommissioned satellites, becomes an even greater threat when colliding at high speed, forming smaller fragments that can cause significant damage to equipment in orbit and the surrounding space. Its accumulation can even lead to a chain reaction called Kessler syndrome.

The Osaka-based EX-Fusion company, which is developing laser technology for space cleaning, has entered into cooperation with the Australian contractor EOS Space Systems, which owns space debris detection technology. According to information from Nikkei Asia, the company hopes to place a powerful laser at the EOS Space observatory near the Australian capital Canberra and use it to hit debris fragments with a diameter of less than 10 cm orbiting the Earth.

EX-Fusion’s plan is to build lasers on the earth’s surface to slow down the speed of space debris so that it burns up in the Earth’s atmosphere. Image: Ex-Fusion

This method involves slowing down space debris to such a speed that it will begin to decline and eventually burn up upon entering the Earth’s atmosphere. It is important to note that EX-Fusion uses solid-state lasers that “stop” objects in orbit moving at high speed, unlike thermal lasers, which are often used in modern laser systems.

Although the precision and power of the technology still need to be improved, the advantage is the ability to perform work directly on the Earth. Other approaches to solving the problem of space debris include a laser on a satellite from Sky Perfect JSAT, aimed at redirecting debris so that it burns up in the atmosphere. In addition, there are ideas of using space magnets and harpoons for this purpose.

Earlier, we reported on how Ukrainians were told about the danger of space debris.

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