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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

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

Paper Abstract

Asteroids and comets that cross Earth’s orbit pose a credible risk of impact, with potentially severe disturbances to Earth and society. Numerous risk mitigation strategies have been described, most involving dedicated missions to a threatening object. 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. DE-STAR is a modular phased array of kilowatt class lasers powered by photovoltaic's. Modular design allows for incremental development, test, and initial deployment, lowering cost, minimizing risk, and allowing for technological co-development, leading eventually to an orbiting structure that would be developed in stages with both technological and target milestones. The main objective of DE-STAR is to use the focused directed energy to raise the surface spot temperature to ~3,000K, allowing direct vaporization of all known substances. In the process of heating the surface ejecting evaporated material a large reaction force would alter the asteroid’s orbit. The baseline system is a DE-STAR 3 or 4 (1-10km array) depending on the degree of protection desired. A DE-STAR 4 allows for asteroid engagement starting beyond 1AU with a spot temperature sufficient to completely evaporate up to 500-m diameter asteroids in one year. Small asteroids and comets can be diverted/evaporated with a DESTAR 2 (100m) while space debris is vaporized with a DE-STAR 1 (10m).

Paper Details

Date Published: 24 September 2013
PDF: 21 pages
Proc. SPIE 8876, Nanophotonics and Macrophotonics for Space Environments VII, 887602 (24 September 2013); doi: 10.1117/12.2030228
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 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, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)


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

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