Sun’s energy could be used to zap dangerous asteroids
Described as a ‘directed energy orbital defense system’, DE-STAR is designed to harness some of the power of the sun and convert it into a massive phased array of laser beams that can destroy, or evaporate, asteroids posing a potential threat to Earth.
It can also be used to deflect an asteroid away from Earth, or into the sun – or to a conventient spot where it can be mined.
“This system is not some far-out idea from Star Trek,” says Gary B. Hughes of California Polytechnic State University. “All the components of this system pretty much exist today. Maybe not quite at the scale that we’d need – scaling up would be the challenge – but the basic elements are all there and ready to go.”
The larger the system, the greater its capabilities. For example, a 100-meter version could start nudging comets or asteroids out of their orbits,” Hughes said. But a 10-kilometer version could deliver 1.4 megatons of energy per day to its target, says Lubin, obliterating an asteroid 500 meters across in one year.
A system this size could also boost the speed of interplanetary travel or power advanced ion drive systems for deep space travel.
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