International Space Station to Launch New Lasers
Scientists will attempt to fit new lasers to the International Space Station and use them to blast away an estimated 3,000 tons of space debris that flies around the Earth and could be putting it in danger.
The plan was proposed by researchers from the Riken Institute in Japan, would see the Extreme Universe Space Observatory (EUSO) telescope that is currently attached to the International Space Station converted into a tool for scouting space debris. When that spots a piece of dangerous debris, a laser would be used to fire at the space junk until it goes out of orbit and burns up as it goes back towards the Earth.
The method is one of a number of proposals for dealing with the huge amounts of “space junk” that is in orbit around the Earth. Satellites have crashed into each other in space, distributing vast pieces of junk that could collide with other satellites.
Dead satellites and other objects that have come into Earth’s orbit, are a threat to the useful satellites that are floating just above our planet, one of which, the International Space Station, contains human beings. Other theories have suggested using nets to catch the rocks, or shooting at them with special gas.
The research team hopes that the final version will use a three-meter telescope and a laser built out of 10,000 fibers. That would be able to shoot down space junk from about 100 kilometers away.