Share Email Print
cover

Proceedings Paper • Open Access

DE-STAR: Phased-array laser technology for planetary defense and other scientific purposes
Author(s): Gary B. Hughes; Philip Lubin; Johanna Bible; Jesse Bublitz; Josh Arriola; Caio Motta; Jon Suen; Isabella Johansson; Jordan Riley; Nilou Sarvian; Jane Wu; Andrew Milich; Mitch Oleson; Mark Pryor

Paper Abstract

Current strategies for diverting threatening asteroids require dedicated operations for every individual object. We propose a stand-off, Earth-orbiting system capable of vaporizing the surface of asteroids as a futuristic but feasible approach to impact risk mitigation. We call the system DE-STAR (Directed Energy System for Targeting of Asteroids and exploRation). DE-STAR is a modular phased array of laser amplifiers, powered by solar photovoltaic panels. Lowcost development of test systems is possible with existing technology. Larger arrays could be tested in sub-orbital demonstrations, leading eventually to an orbiting system. Design requirements are established by seeking to vaporize the surface of an asteroid, with ejected material creating a reaction force to alter the asteroid’s orbit. A proposed system goal would be to raise the surface spot temperature to <3,000K, evaporating all known substances. Engagement distance required for successful diversion depends on the asteroid’s mass, composition and approach velocity. Distance to focus and desired surface spot temperature then determine laser array size. Volatile-laden objects (such as comets) ~100m wide and approaching at 5km/s could be diverted by initiating engagement at ~0.05AU, requiring a laser array of ~100m side length. Phased array configuration allows multiple beams, so a single DE-STAR of sufficient size would be capable of targeting several threats simultaneously. An orbiting DE-STAR could serve diverse scientific objectives, such as propulsion of kinetic asteroid interceptors or other interplanetary spacecraft. Vaporization of debris in Earth orbit could be accomplished with a ~10m array. Beyond the primary task of Earth defense, numerous functions are envisioned.

Paper Details

Date Published: 24 September 2013
PDF: 15 pages
Proc. SPIE 8876, Nanophotonics and Macrophotonics for Space Environments VII, 88760J (24 September 2013); doi: 10.1117/12.2026401
Show Author Affiliations
Gary B. Hughes, California Polytechnic State Univ., San Luis Obispo (United States)
Philip Lubin, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (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 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)
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, Vorticity Inc. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8876:
Nanophotonics and Macrophotonics for Space Environments VII
Edward W. Taylor; David A. Cardimona, Editor(s)

© SPIE. Terms of Use
Back to Top