An Australian-led project to clean up space using lasers is “the safest way to clean it up” as millions of pieces of debris clutter Earth, according to ANU cosmologist and astrophysicist Dr Brad Tucker.
“It’s a remarkable piece of technology that’s been years in the making and it’s a joining between the ANU and Electro Optics Systems and some groups in the US and RMIT, essentially it’s trying to deal with the space junk problem,” he told Sky News.
“A lot of these are old satellites that we’re not really focusing on, but there are also hundreds and thousands if not millions of tiny bits, we’re talking about centimetre-sized objects.”
Dr Tucker said the project worked by using two lasers with one to “track or find the objects” and the other to drag it to orbit.
“Then you have the other laser come along when you know where the piece of debris is and nothing’s in the way to deorbit the junk with another laser, so actually kind of giving it a push into Earth’s atmosphere so that it burns up,” he said.