Space Junk Solution: Fire Lasers at It
Australia prepares to deal with 300K pieces of debris
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Mar 10, 2014 8:28 AM CDT
Scientists in Australia are taking aim at space junk.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Space is full of debris, scientists say—about 300,000 pieces of it—and it's putting our satellites at risk. We could be "a couple of decades away from a catastrophic cascade of collisions ... that takes out all the satellites in low orbit," says researcher Matthew Colless. But Australian scientists are getting ready to do something about it: They plan to fire lasers at the junk, which can include anything from little screws to rocket parts, Reuters reports.

"We now want to clean up space to avoid the growing risks of collisions and to make sure we don’t have the kind of event portrayed in Gravity," Colless tells Australian National University news. Australia's government is putting $20 million into a Cooperative Research Center to tackle the issue, while NASA, Lockheed Martin, and others are contributing $70 million, Motherboard reports. Sound farfetched? Not at all, Colless says: The system should be ready within a decade. And "there's no risk of missing and hitting a working satellite," he adds. "We can target them precisely. We really don't miss."

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Showing 3 of 33 comments
Ezekiel 25:17
Mar 15, 2014 10:23 PM CDT
Sandia Labs' proton particle beam weapon is still up there and could be repurposed. Then again they probably don't want to take its readiness away from Kim Jong dingly dong. It needs to be ready to poke holes in any missiles that make it as far as Hawaii. I suggest they go ahead and poke holes in the smaller ones so they malfunction right at takeoff.
OrneryPup
Mar 10, 2014 11:20 PM CDT
Keen
Tengu ?? Slayer of Vanity
Mar 10, 2014 8:27 PM CDT
Ground-based lasers that are supposed to punch through the atmosphere and instantly 'vaporize' millions of random-sized bits of super heat-resistant satellite materials? Sure!