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Laser Bees Papers

Posted by Bruce Betts

11-07-2013 18:17 CDT

Topics: Planetary Society Projects, planetary defense and Mirror Bees, Future Mission Concepts, Earth impact hazard, near-Earth asteroids

Our Laser Bees project is all about boring into asteroids with lasers to move them. For those wishing to bore into more details of our Laser Bees project itself, graduate student Alison Gibbings from the University of Strathclyde has sent me their technical paper that resulted from the 2013 Planetary Defense Conference. I previously reported on seeing Alison at that conference and I provided their short abstract for the conference, but their paper from after the conference gives many more details and figures. Also, if you prefer a more visual format, she sent their poster that they presented at the conference (which contains less content but some additional images).

Laser Bees sandstone rock narrow ejecta cone

Laser Bees sandstone rock narrow ejecta cone
Sandstone rock during laser ablation in the lab as part of the Laser Bees project – notice the narrow conical plume of material being ejected.

Both the technical paper and the poster report on their progress in measuring the zapping of rocks in a vacuum chamber with a high-powered laser. They measure various things like temperature at the spot the laser hits the rock, the development of the hole caused by the laser, the development of the plume of vaporized rock, and the deposition on materials in the chamber. All of this allows them to improve models of what would happen if you used a spacecraft (or multiple spacecraft) with an even higher powered laser to zap a dangerous asteroid to move it to a safe orbit.  Bottom line: their measurements went well and have provided insights into changes to be made to the conceptual model. And they noticed not just rock vapor comes out of the hole, but also unvaporized rock kicked out by the vaporizing rock -- another thing to account for in understanding the process. A new round of experiments will be run later this summer that will provide different measurements on a variety of materials. Stay tuned, and enjoy some light reading in the meantime.

 
See other posts from July 2013

 

Or read more blog entries about: Planetary Society Projects, planetary defense and Mirror Bees, Future Mission Concepts, Earth impact hazard, near-Earth asteroids

Comments:

Bob Ware: 07/13/2013 05:36 CDT

Thanks for the results analysis. I hoped it would be on those lines thus indicating a good probability of being the best approach to this problem. So far it loks that way.

Michael Cimorosi: 07/28/2013 01:16 CDT

Thank you for this laser application update! Lasers rule, Mike Cimorosi Instructor (Lasers/Optics) Delaware Technical Community College Newark, DE

John Walker: 07/29/2013 08:01 CDT

How about just doing something simple, like parabolic mirrors to focus sunlight? That way you don't have to bring your power source with you, it's always available.

Bob Ware: 07/31/2013 09:02 CDT

John - I think someone looked at that and for some technical reason it was turned downed. I think it had to due with possible regolith coating the mirrors and no way to clean them without movement as well as accurately pointing the light beam. Also in some cases it involves 2 mirrors to hit the asteroid and constant maneuvering. In theory it is a good idea from the power standpoint but with the mirrors, power for control will be needed. The mirror light power will also not be as strong as LASER output which would cause the asteroid to propel itself.

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