18 February 2014 Toward directed energy planetary defense
Author Affiliations +
Asteroids and comets that cross Earth’s orbit pose a credible risk of impact, with potentially severe disturbances to Earth and society. 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. The DE-STAR is a modular-phased array of kilowatt class lasers powered by photovoltaic’s. Modular design allows for incremental development, minimizing risk, and allowing for technological codevelopment. An orbiting structure would be developed in stages. The main objective of the DE-STAR is to use focused directed energy to raise the surface spot temperature to ∼3000  K, sufficient to vaporize all known substances. Ejection of evaporated material creates a large reaction force that would alter an asteroid’s orbit. The baseline system is a DE-STAR 3 or 4 (1- to 10-km array) depending on the degree of protection desired. A DE-STAR 4 allows initial engagement beyond 1 AU with a spot temperature sufficient to completely evaporate up to 500-m diameter asteroids in 1 year. Small objects can be diverted with a DE-STAR 2 (100 m) while space debris is vaporized with a DE-STAR 1 (10 m).
© 2014 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE)
Philip Lubin, Gary B. Hughes, Johanna Bible, Jesse Bublitz, Josh Arriola, Caio Motta, Jon Suen, Isabella E. Johansson, Jordan Riley, Nilou Sarvian, Deborah Clayton-Warwick, Jane Wu, Andrew Milich, Mitch Oleson, Mark Pryor, Peter Krogen, Miikka Kangas, Hugh O’Neill, "Toward directed energy planetary defense," Optical Engineering 53(2), 025103 (18 February 2014). https://doi.org/10.1117/1.OE.53.2.025103 . Submission:

Back to Top