Russia is currently working on a new, laser cannon that will evaporate harmful space junk orbiting the Earth. According to Sputnik News, scientists at the Scientific and Industrial Corporation ‘Precision Instrument Systems’ (NPK SPP), a company affiliated with Roscosmos, are trying to develop this new technology for the benefits of the mankind. The new system will vaporize space debris with the help of a focused laser beam.
A report about this laser system has been submitted to the Russian Academy of Sciences. This report talks about creating “an optic detection system which includes a solid-state laser and a transmit/receive adaptive optical system.” The plan is to use the massive three-meter optical telescope at the Altay Optical-Laser Center and convert it into a laser cannon. The construction of this telescope has already started.
According to Sputnik News, the laser system will be powered by a solid-state generator.
RIA Novosti – Russia’s news agency –stated: “The space trash destroyer will use the process known as “laser ablation” to remove the debris from spaceships or any other junk, like a cosmonaut’s lost glove floating in low-earth orbit, which is between 160 to 2,000 kilometers (100-1,240 miles) above the Earth’s surface. The laser’s energy heats an object that is pierced with a beam until it gradually evaporates.”
NASA estimates about 500,000 pieces of space debris, of the size of a marble or larger. These junk pieces travel at speeds up to 17,500 miles per hour in the orbit and can cause huge damage to satellites or spacecraft.
According to the Russian International Television Network, nearly 20,000 junk pieces are larger than the size of a softball. Every year, a large number of satellites are being launched into space, thereby increasing the amount of space debris. Two years back, Russian scientists determined to address the issue of space debris that would otherwise make space launches impossible in next one or two centuries.
Last year, Japan tried to clear debris in space by using a 700-meter tether. China has also proposed to use space-based lasers to destroy debris in the orbit. Australia is working to create a photon-pressure laser that would change the orbits of the junk pieces.