24 September 2013 Directed energy planetary defense
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Abstract
Asteroids and comets that cross Earth’s orbit pose a credible risk of impact, with potentially severe disturbances to Earth and society. Numerous risk mitigation strategies have been described, most involving dedicated missions to a threatening object. We propose an orbital planetary defense system capable of heating the surface of potentially hazardous objects to the vaporization point as a feasible approach to impact risk mitigation. We call the system DE-STAR for Directed Energy System for Targeting of Asteroids and exploRation. DE-STAR is a modular phased array of kilowatt class lasers powered by photovoltaic's. Modular design allows for incremental development, test, and initial deployment, lowering cost, minimizing risk, and allowing for technological co-development, leading eventually to an orbiting structure that would be developed in stages with both technological and target milestones. The main objective of DE-STAR is to use the focused directed energy to raise the surface spot temperature to ~3,000K, allowing direct vaporization of all known substances. In the process of heating the surface ejecting evaporated material a large reaction force would alter the asteroid’s orbit. The baseline system is a DE-STAR 3 or 4 (1-10km array) depending on the degree of protection desired. A DE-STAR 4 allows for asteroid engagement starting beyond 1AU with a spot temperature sufficient to completely evaporate up to 500-m diameter asteroids in one year. Small asteroids and comets can be diverted/evaporated with a DESTAR 2 (100m) while space debris is vaporized with a DE-STAR 1 (10m).
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Philip Lubin, Gary B. Hughes, Johanna Bible, Jesse Bublitz, Josh Arriola, Caio Motta, Jon Suen, Isabella Johansson, Jordan Riley, Nilou Sarvian, Deborah Clayton-Warwick, Jane Wu, Andrew Milich, Mitch Oleson, Mark Pryor, Peter Krogen, Miikka Kangas, "Directed energy planetary defense", Proc. SPIE 8876, Nanophotonics and Macrophotonics for Space Environments VII, 887602 (24 September 2013); doi: 10.1117/12.2030228; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2030228
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