Space Junk Solution: Fire Lasers at It

Australia prepares to deal with 300K pieces of debris

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 10, 2014 8:28 AM CDT

(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."

Scientists in Australia are taking aim at space junk.   (Shutterstock)
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