There is always a danger of orbital debris which can act as a hazard to satellite and spacecraft.
There are many techniques developed to solve this problem like the gas clouds, nets and sails which to some extent solve the problem by collecting the debris. The problem in these methods is that they can only capture larger pieces of debris and small pieces of debris escapes from its catch.
To solve this problem International group of scientists are developing a system that can shoot those bits down with the laser.
The system is having two main components: highly efficient fiber optic based laser, a super wide field of view telescope developed by the EUSO team at Japan’s Riken research institute.
The telescope was originally developed to detect ultraviolet light emitted which is produced by the ultra-high-energy cosmic rays entering the Earth’s atmosphere at night.
Toshikazu Ebisuzaki, who is leading the project, realized that it could be used to detect high-velocity debris fragments at twilight.
Once a piece is spotted by the system then it would instruct the laser to focus intense pulse of light onto it.
The debris is destroyed by the process called plasma ablation, in this process one side of the debris is heated up and turn to plasma, as the plasma plumbed off to that side, it would create thrust, sending the debris down to burn in the atmosphere.
The next step would be test the system, for this the proof of concept model is installed in the International Space Station. It will utilize a 20 cm telescope and a 100 fiber laser, and it will shoot down debris near the station.
If it works well then the full scale version will be installed near the station which is having 3 meter telescope, a 10,000 fiber laser and a range of 62 miles or 100 km.
The system can also be deployed at an altitude of 497 miles or 800 km where greater amount of debris is present.
Ebisuzaki said, “Our proposal is radically different from the more conventional approach that is ground based, and we believe it is a more manageable approach that will be accurate, fast, and cheap, we believe that this dedicated system could remove most of the centimeter-sized debris within five years of operation.”