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Laser proposed to deflect space junk

Ground-based device would use light to push debris off collision course

5:19pm, March 22, 2011

It won’t prevent Armageddon, but a simple ground-based laser system could nudge small pieces of space junk away from satellites to prevent collisions, a new study suggests.

The proposed system uses photons generated by a medium-power laser and aimed into space through a 1.5-meter telescope. The photons exert pressure on space debris in low-Earth orbit, gently pushing the objects aside rather than vaporizing them. Researchers have applied the same idea, using the pressure from sunlight, to propel spacecraft (SN: 8/21/99, p

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