Author Topic: Space Debris Removal by Laser Radiation  (Read 2908 times)

Offline CameronD

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Space Debris Removal by Laser Radiation
« on: 02/26/2019 10:27 pm »
At the recent ASIC2019 conference, Dr Ben Greene from Electro-Optics Systems Ltd mentioned they are planning a test of debris removal using laser radiation, sometime this year.

Will this work?

With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine - however, this is not necessarily a good idea. It is hard to be sure where they are
going to land, and it could be dangerous sitting under them as they fly overhead.

Offline Comga

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Re: Space Debris Removal by Laser Radiation
« Reply #1 on: 02/27/2019 04:44 am »
At the recent ASIC2019 conference, Dr Ben Greene from Electro-Optics Systems Ltd mentioned they are planning a test of debris removal using laser radiation, sometime this year.

Will this work?

Work?
Sure, with enough power
Incident power would form a plasma on the "front" side of the space debris, pushing against the orbital velocity.

But
There are severe technical issues, like keeping the beam focused over long distances particularly after transiting the atmosphere.
There is no need to add to atmospheric drag below a few hundred km, so this is only useful for orbiting hardware above, say, 500 km.
And wanting to retard the motion means aiming for the leading side.
Which increases the distance and the amount of (turbulent) air through which the beam travels.
And it would take a large number of plasma bursts to slow down a massive object, and removing mass is the key to preventing a Kessler Syndrome.

And then there's the politics.....
Such a system would by definition be an anti-satellite weapon.
Long before the plasma imparts significant mechanical force to change the orbit it would disrupt functioning electronics and optics.  It would disable thin elements like solar arrays and antennae. 

Orbital debris removal is one place where technical feasibility is not the main criterion. 


I wonder what EOS would use for their initial test target.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline freddo411

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Re: Space Debris Removal by Laser Radiation
« Reply #2 on: 02/27/2019 06:05 am »
At the recent ASIC2019 conference, Dr Ben Greene from Electro-Optics Systems Ltd mentioned they are planning a test of debris removal using laser radiation, sometime this year.

Will this work?


And then there's the politics.....
Such a system would by definition be an anti-satellite weapon.
Long before the plasma imparts significant mechanical force to change the orbit it would disrupt functioning electronics and optics.  It would disable thin elements like solar arrays and antennae. 

Orbital debris removal is one place where technical feasibility is not the main criterion. 


I wonder what EOS would use for their initial test target.

China has blown up a sat (one of their own), and the US did the same.   OK, we all know the major space powers have anti-sat capability of some sort.

Now can we build giant lasers to do some useful work?

Offline Asteroza

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Re: Space Debris Removal by Laser Radiation
« Reply #3 on: 02/27/2019 10:13 pm »
Seem to be targeting the 1cm space debris range, which is not a tractable problem with conventional debris retrieval trash tugs. But targeting 1cm debris is gonna be a hard problem when most space fence radars are limited to tracking 3cm or larger.

This appears to be the relevant company page...

https://www.eos-aus.com/space/space-debris-management/

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Space Debris Removal by Laser Radiation
« Reply #4 on: 02/27/2019 10:50 pm »
Seem to be targeting the 1cm space debris range, which is not a tractable problem with conventional debris retrieval trash tugs. But targeting 1cm debris is gonna be a hard problem when most space fence radars are limited to tracking 3cm or larger.

This appears to be the relevant company page...

https://www.eos-aus.com/space/space-debris-management/
Have to be careful they don't hit any satellites in front or behind debris.

ISS would be good base for a laser, assume power requirements can be addresses. Don't have to worry about atmosphere losses.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Space Debris Removal by Laser Radiation
« Reply #5 on: 02/28/2019 09:40 am »
Seem to be targeting the 1cm space debris range, which is not a tractable problem with conventional debris retrieval trash tugs. But targeting 1cm debris is gonna be a hard problem when most space fence radars are limited to tracking 3cm or larger.

This appears to be the relevant company page...

https://www.eos-aus.com/space/space-debris-management/
Indeed.

I've never heard of these guys but their accuracy figures look to be world leading.

The problem with this stuff is there is so damm much of it. Sending a satellite to bring down 1cm fragments is sending a tank to crack a walnut. I don't think you need to vaporize the fragments. I think if you just charge them you can get the Earth's magnetic field to "herd" them into a few specific orbits, preferably lower ones, where increased air drag will simply burn them up on reentry.
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Offline CameronD

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Re: Space Debris Removal by Laser Radiation
« Reply #6 on: 02/28/2019 09:43 pm »
I've never heard of these guys..

Some info for you then:  They say they can track 5cm objects at 800km.
« Last Edit: 02/28/2019 09:46 pm by CameronD »
With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine - however, this is not necessarily a good idea. It is hard to be sure where they are
going to land, and it could be dangerous sitting under them as they fly overhead.

Offline Asteroza

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Re: Space Debris Removal by Laser Radiation
« Reply #7 on: 02/28/2019 10:31 pm »
They certainly appear to have the telescope/beam director pedigree to make the ground segment, and appear to have experience in tracking/targeting, so they just need someone to supply the laser.

If I remember correctly, there's some sort of laser use registry to deconflict space pointed lasers from blinding existing assets (mostly for astronomy guide star lasers used for adaptive optics), so that should provide the necessary data to avoid roasting working sats (specular reflections excepted)

Offline Vahe231991

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Re: Space Debris Removal by Laser Radiation
« Reply #8 on: 08/01/2023 12:13 am »
I found a recent news item that mentions in passing the removal of space debris using laser radiation:
Quote
The analysis, which looked at both the cost of establishing various approaches to removing debris as well as the costs incurred by satellite operators from debris, found the most effective approaches involved ground- and space-based lasers to remove large amounts of small debris between 1 and 10 centimeters across. Both laser systems would create benefits that exceed their costs within a decade.

https://spacenews.com/nasa-study-assess-costs-and-benefits-of-orbital-debris-removal/ [from March 13, 2023]

Given that this NASA study from March 2023 indicates that using ground- and space-based lasers to remove large amounts of small debris between 1 and 10 centimeters in width could create benefits within a decade, it is possible that Russia could secondarily use the Peresvet ground-based laser weapon system to remove derelict Soviet-era SIGINT and missile early warning satellites from orbit and all remaining Cosmos 2251 debris.

Offline Barley

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Re: Space Debris Removal by Laser Radiation
« Reply #9 on: 08/08/2023 03:39 am »

And wanting to retard the motion means aiming for the leading side.
Which increases the distance and the amount of (turbulent) air through which the beam travels.


A laser constrained to fire near vertically could still be useful.

Applying a vertical (radial) impulse at perigee changes the orbit, decreasing perigee with negligible change in orbital energy.  Lower perigee increases drag and decreases orbital life.

A very slightly retrograde impulse can change the aim point to "near perigee" with no increase in orbital energy.  There will be other cases such as a near circular orbit where you can hit the debris near vertically almost anywhere with the same effect.

Tags: Space Debris laser 
 

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