"International Space Station after undocking of STS-132" by NASA/Crew of STS-132 - http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/images/shuttle/sts-132/hires/s132e012208.jpg(http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/images/shuttle/sts-132/html/s132e012208.html). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:International_Space_Station_after_undocking_of_STS-132.jpg#/media/File:International_Space_Station_after_undocking_of_STS-132.jpg
By Danielle Venton
If a team of astronomers has its way, the International Space Station will be outfitted with a spiffy laser-wielding telescope. No, no, hold on—it’s not to kill aliens or rebel civilizations. It’s to clean up a huge mess.
If anything rivals the human drive for exploration, it is the apparent need to leave a spectacular plume of trash in our wake. In space, the problem is becoming acute. Decades of discarded satellites and unchecked collisions have left some 3,000 tons of debris in orbit. Mankind’s slovenly ways threaten our continued use of space-based satellites, which have become a core component of modern technological infrastructure.
Lasers could be the saviors in operation Orbital Clean House. A team of astronomers at Japan’s RIKEN, a network of basic-research laboratories, have proposed adding debris-zapping capabilities to a telescope they are already developing for the International Space Station.
If the notion of lasers in space sounds slightly terrifying, you’re not alone. “The problem with it is mostly political,” says Don Kessler, who spent more than 30 years at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. “Everyone is afraid you are going to weaponize space.”
For the team at RIKEN, the proposed laser cannon is a way to not only clean up their beloved orbits but also make their telescope, the Extreme Universe Space Observatory, more practically relevant, says project scientist Marco Casolino. With its wide field of view and the ability to register even the quickest flashes of light, the scope would be well suited for spotting debris as it whizzes past the International Space Station.
Now, the RIKEN team isn’t the first to suggest lasers as debris-fighting tools: Scientists have for at least 30 years kicked around the idea of laser-vaporizing an object’s surface and knocking it into the atmosphere to burn up.
In the United States, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration—which publishes Orbital Debris Quarterly News, a must read for space junk enthusiasts—proposes fighting space debris with a ground-based laser.
More - Link >>> http://www.wired.com/2015/05/laser-cannon-space-debris/
Source: Wired Magazine.
Related Blog Posts ---
New USAF 'Space Fence' to Track Space Junk by 2019 (2014 May 10):
New Satellites to Watch Space Junk, Foreign Spacecraft (2014 Feb. 22):
Finding Space Junk: DARPA Seeks New Sensors (2013 Dec. 26):
Space Junk Tracking to be Hindered by Shutdown of USAF 'Space Fence' (2013 Aug. 15):
China Space Junk/Russian Satellite Collision Never Happened? (2013 March 20):
China Space Junk Crash w/Russian Satellite: Legal Action Unlikely (2013 March 13):
DARPA Asks Amateur Astronomers to Track Space Junk (2012 Nov. 15):
Space Junk Prompts Space Station Orbit Change (2012 Oct. 3):
Swiss May Remove Space Junk (2012 Feb. 17):
Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < firstname.lastname@example.org >..
Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < email@example.com >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
< http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
< http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
* Public Transit: