A group of Australian scientists a few months back won government funding to create and develop huge lasers (of the invisible light spectrum infra-red variety) that could potentially be powerful enough at some point in the near future to blast away debris orbiting the Earth! How cool it that!?
Science fiction becomes science fact! The Australian scientists have reportedly received a government grant of $20m (around £10.8m) to create and develop these incredibly powerful and complex lasers. This government grant coupled with a private investment of $40m (around £21.6m) will enable them to create these lasers in their own high-tech observatory. They won’t initially be attempting to blast away space debris however, instead simply tracking minute pieces of space debris, with the goal to eventually be destroying this debris.
Supposedly there are over 300,000 pieces of space debris which they’re hoping to destroy within the next decade. Why bother destroying this debris you ask? It’s estimated that we could only be around 20 years away from catastrophic domino-effect high speed collisions, which could ultimately lead to all satellites in low orbit being destroyed or knocked out of orbit (which isn’t a good thing communications wise). A lot of this debris is apparently man made such as huge old segments of solid rocket boosters to parts as small as nuts and bolts zipping around the Earth at phenomenal pace.
It has been stated that any debris that is blasted away will burn up and disintegrate in our atmosphere and the process of targeting the debris is extremely precise. Eventually the ultimate goal once these lasers have been adequately tested is to set up multiple observatories worldwide to combat space debris in future.
The war against space debris. Now with lasers!