Arxiv – Mode-locked Lasers Applied to Deflecting a Near Earth Object on Collision Course with Earth
We consider synchronized trains of sub-picosecond pulses generated by mode-locked lasers applied to deflection of near Earth objects (NEO) on collision course with Earth. Our method is designed to avoid a predicted collision of the NEO with Earth by at least the diameter of Earth. We estimate deflecting a 10,000 MT NEO, such as the asteroid which struck Earth near Chelyabinsk, Russia to be feasible within several months using average power in the ten kilowatt range. We see this deflection method as scalable to larger NEO to a degree not possible using continuous laser systems.
Three trains of synchronized sub-picosecond optical pulses (light blue, green, and yellow Gaussian TEM00 modes) directed by microspacecraft (white hexagonal boundaries) exert propulsive thrust slowing a NEO
For an asteroid of mass M = 10,000 MT, a spacecraft of 10 MT, and average optical power of 10 kW, this distance d is, e.g., ~ 0.5 km. This is essentially an “Archimedes Lever” strategy that treats the spacecraft, micro-spacecraft and NEO as a single unit. This configuration might be of interest for other applications
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