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Optical Engineering

Toward directed energy planetary defense
Author(s): Philip Lubin; Gary B. Hughes; Johanna Bible; Jesse Bublitz; Josh Arriola; Caio Motta; Jon Suen; Isabella E. Johansson; Jordan Riley; Nilou Sarvian; Deborah Clayton-Warwick; Jane Wu; Andrew Milich; Mitch Oleson; Mark Pryor; Peter Krogen; Miikka Kangas; Hugh O’Neill
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Paper Abstract

Asteroids and comets that cross Earth’s orbit pose a credible risk of impact, with potentially severe disturbances to Earth and society. We propose an orbital planetary defense system capable of heating the surface of potentially hazardous objects to the vaporization point as a feasible approach to impact risk mitigation. We call the system DE-STAR, for Directed Energy System for Targeting of Asteroids and exploRation. The DE-STAR is a modular-phased array of kilowatt class lasers powered by photovoltaic’s. Modular design allows for incremental development, minimizing risk, and allowing for technological codevelopment. An orbiting structure would be developed in stages. The main objective of the DE-STAR is to use focused directed energy to raise the surface spot temperature to ∼3000  K, sufficient to vaporize all known substances. Ejection of evaporated material creates a large reaction force that would alter an asteroid’s orbit. The baseline system is a DE-STAR 3 or 4 (1- to 10-km array) depending on the degree of protection desired. A DE-STAR 4 allows initial engagement beyond 1 AU with a spot temperature sufficient to completely evaporate up to 500-m diameter asteroids in 1 year. Small objects can be diverted with a DE-STAR 2 (100 m) while space debris is vaporized with a DE-STAR 1 (10 m).

Paper Details

Date Published: 18 February 2014
PDF: 19 pages
Opt. Eng. 53(2) 025103 doi: 10.1117/1.OE.53.2.025103
Published in: Optical Engineering Volume 53, Issue 2
Show Author Affiliations
Philip Lubin, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)
Gary B. Hughes, California Polytechnic State Univ., San Luis Obispo (United States)
Johanna Bible, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)
Jesse Bublitz, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)
Josh Arriola, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)
Caio Motta, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)
Jon Suen, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)
Isabella E. Johansson, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)
Jordan Riley, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)
Nilou Sarvian, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)
Deborah Clayton-Warwick, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)
Jane Wu, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)
Andrew Milich, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)
Mitch Oleson, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)
Mark Pryor, Vorticy, Inc. (United States)
Peter Krogen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (United States)
Miikka Kangas, University of California
Hugh O’Neill, California Polytechnic State University


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