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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).
© (2013) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Philip Lubin, Gary B. Hughes, J. J. 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, and Miikka Kangas "Directed energy planetary defense", Proc. SPIE 8876, Nanophotonics and Macrophotonics for Space Environments VII, 887602 (24 September 2013); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2030228
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