New laser to help clear the sky of space debris
by Staff Writers
Canberra, Australia (SPX) Apr 13, 2021
Researchers at The Australian National University (ANU) have harnessed a technique that helps telescopes see objects in the night sky more clearly to fight against dangerous and costly space debris.
The researchers' work on adaptive optics - which removes the haziness caused by turbulence in the atmosphere - has been applied to a new 'guide star' laser for better identifying, tracking and safely moving space debris.
Space debris is a major threat to the $US700 billion of space infrastructure delivering vital services around the globe each day. With laser guide star adaptive optics, this infrastructure now has a new line of defence.
The optics that focus and direct the guide star laser have been developed by the ANU researchers with colleagues from Electro Optic Systems (EOS), RMIT University, Japan and the USA as part of the Space Environment Research Centre (SERC).
EOS will now commercialise the new guide star laser technology, which could also be incorporated in tool kits to enable high-bandwidth ground to space satellite communications.
The laser beams used for tracking space junk use infrared light and aren't visible. In contrast, the new guide star laser, which is mounted on a telescope, propagates a visible orange beam into the night sky to create an artificial star that can be used to accurately measure light distortion between Earth and space.
This guiding orange light enables adaptive optics to sharpen images of space debris. It can also guide a second, more powerful infra-red laser beam through the atmosphere to precisely track space debris or even safely move them out of orbit to avoid collisions with other debris and eventually burn up in the atmosphere.
Lead researcher, Professor Celine D'Orgeville from ANU, says adaptive optics is like "removing the twinkle from the stars".
"But that's a good thing," Professor D'Orgeville said.
"Without adaptive optics, a telescope sees an object in space like a blob of light. This is because our atmosphere distorts the light travelling between the Earth and those objects.
"But with adaptive optics, these objects become easier to see and their images become a lot sharper. Essentially, adaptive optics cuts through the distortion in our atmosphere, making sure we can clearly see the incredible images our powerful telescopes capture.
"This includes small, human-made objects - like weather and communication satellites, or space junk.
"That's why this development is such an important breakthrough when it comes to our efforts to clear our night skies of the ever-increasing clutter of space debris."
The EOS guide star laser and the ANU adaptive optics systems are located at the ANU Mount Stromlo Observatory in Canberra, Australia.
The ANU researchers will now work with EOS to test the new technology and apply it to a range of other applications including laser communications between the Earth and space.
It's an exciting development that will help to safeguard the wide range of vital applications of space technology in the 21st century.
Read more about the ANU researchers' work on adaptive optics in Scientific American.
German Space Agency Selects Lockheed Martin iSpace System For Space Situational Awareness
Colorado Springs CO (SPX) Apr 07, 2021
To obtain real-time awareness of the more than 300,000 objects orbiting the earth, the German Space Agency at DLR has selected Lockheed Martin's iSpace command and control system. The iSpace system tracks thousands of objects orbiting the earth by collecting data from a worldwide network of government, commercial and scientific community surveillance sensors. The German Space Agency at DLR is the national space agency for the Federal Republic of Germany and operates the German Space Situational Aw ... read more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.