28 July 2014 Space invader asteroids: detect and deter with silicon space based lasers
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Abstract
Current strategies for detecting and deflecting/destroying small to medium size asteroids that may possibly enter earth’s atmosphere are in their infancy. Projects such as Sentinel for detection and DE-STAR for deflecting of asteroids are gaining momentum while others are in design stages. Single crystal silicon (SC-Si) with its unique set of mechanical and thermal properties is eminently suitable for deployment in any and all of these applications. But the superior thermal properties are particularly suited for high energy applications. We show that the exceptionally high thermal conductivity and diffusivity combined with relatively low thermal expansion enable SC-Si mirrors to handle the energy, often without active cooling, while maintaining figure. Both cooled and uncooled SC-Si mirrors have been employed successfully in high energy laser applications. For IR detection of asteroids, SC-Si lenses, prisms and filters are invaluable in the 1-5 μm range along with SC-Si mirrors at any wavelength. This space qualified material has zero defects and is readily available in a range of sizes to 300 mm diameter from several vendors, but while boules to 460 mm have limited availability, they can be obtained. For applications requiring larger sizes, McCarter’s proprietary glass frit bonding is utilized. Components approaching one meter have been produced.
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Douglas R. McCarter, Roger A. Paquin, "Space invader asteroids: detect and deter with silicon space based lasers", Proc. SPIE 9151, Advances in Optical and Mechanical Technologies for Telescopes and Instrumentation, 91510L (28 July 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2058020; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2058020
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