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Quis custodiet the custard?
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A laser broom is a space junk removal tool intended to
destroy or deorbit space junk. Over the last 60 years
orbit has become cluttered with over a million individual
pieces of trash all zooming around and occasionally into
important things like communications satellites and the
NASA has demonstrated that heating up one side of
item will alter its orbital path, moving it out of the way
destabilizing its orbit to burn up in the atmosphere
(hopefully) or at least not land on anything terribly
Several such ideas have proposed planet-
devices to pulse-lase a particular piece of junk over a
period to destabilize its orbital path. An orbital device
however could utilize raw, unfiltered sunlight and could
either share Earths solar orbital path to target objects
they come around in each rotation, or be placed in Earth
orbit along the same general path as the bulk of the junk
to be targeted. Overspray could be minimized by
the targeting angle across the atmosphere; alternately
Earth, mostly water, should make a good backstop.
Now the idea: Brooms funded by a private
could be rented out for bit work. Should an aerospace
company wish a particular orbit swept clear of trash for
their upcoming launch they could simply pony up the
and have ready a nice, glowing letter of thanks for a job
well done. Several successful leases should cover annual
operating costs and even the launches themselves.
A self-destruct mechanism could be fitted,
use would partially recreate the original problem.
Missed it by that much.
:holds fingers apart about an inch: [whatrock, May 14 2020]
If more is better then too much is just right
[whatrock, May 14 2020]
Maybe we need satellites made from armor plating?
[whatrock, May 14 2020]
||Because humans are human (it's a problem...), the first
rental will be by one country's military to "clean up" the
communications/spy satellites of some other country.
||From the ground it wouldn't be possible: You'll almost always be pushing it radial out, and you'll never get it lower that way. From above you might de-orbit it, but then you might also melt off bits of shrapnel or even blow up the odd surviving tank or unstable hydrocarbon. I'm all for blowing things up[+] but not in a way that clutters near space even more [-]
||I don't think space junk in one particular orbit is much of a
problem. It is space junk that intersects the orbit of your
satellite, which is essentially all the orbits that pass
through your satellite's altitude. In other words, clearing all
the potential space junk hazards to your satellite's orbit is
impractical. Clearing space junk that is likely to impact
your satellite in the near future is more feasible.
||[neutrinos shadow] I apologize for that flip answer.
||With increasing amounts of orbital stuff comes more
collisions and accidents, so a broom of some sort is needed.
Using existing brooms would be easier than demanding that
each aerospace nation develop and launch their own to
police their own shit.
Your concern is certainly
valid but as
with nuclear weapons which are owned by some 35
countries now there is a strong urge to not use them lest
they be used against you.
So we rent what's there (hopefully), probably made by
||What if we use nukes to break up any debris into smaller and smaller bits and then build spacecraft that can survive very small pieces?