The space debris around our Earth’s orbit is increasing at an alarming rate. Scientists here on Earth are quite concerned about the potential hazards these space debris poses to the operational satellites and spacecraft. But researchers in China have come with a unique technique to destroy those space debris or space junk. According to them, laser technology can be considered as a possible solution to minimize the space debris surrounding Earth’s orbit.
A group of scientists at the Air Force Engineering University in Xi’an in China has insisted upon sending a laser station to space. Once in space, the laser station would send powerful lasers that would zap big-sized space junk into smaller pieces to minimize the threat. At present, the satellites and spacecraft, that are currently operational in space, are at a risk of colliding with roughly 20,000 already tracked space debris.
The space junk includes old rockets, used rocket stages along with fragments from collision, disintegration, and erosions of man-made space objects. According to NASA estimations, more than 100 million pieces of orbital debris are present in space surrounding the Earth that measures less than 1 cm (0.4 inches). So to get rid of those hazardous space junk, the Chinese researchers thought of applying powerful lasers so as to destroy or minimize the size of the space debris to make them potentially less harmful.
For the research, the Chinese team prepared a simulated laser station and conducted a computer-based simulation so as to know if the application of giant lasers to clear space debris is a fruitful method or not. The researchers said that the simulation provides the required theoretical basis for the deployment of a potential space-based laser station and then applying space-based laser to remove space debris. The further informed that they analyzed the velocity variation of space debris ablating by the space-based laser station and then they modeled and studied that the orbital movement of the space debris irradiated by the laser station. They are hopeful that by applying powerful laser from a space-based laser station, the space debris or space junks can be cleared or removed.
The high-speed space debris that includes objects, that are as big as rocket stages and as small as paint flakes, are very dangerous orbiting space crafts and satellites. Some tiny fragments cruise at a speed of more than 27,000kmh (16,777 mph) which can seriously damage the satellites on impact. According to Nicholas Johnson, the chief scientist for Orbital Debris, any of these debris bears the potential to seriously disrupt or terminate the mission of operational spacecraft in the lower earth orbit.