Japanese engineers develop high-powered laser to burn space junk

Engineers at the Japanese satellite firm JSAT have announced a new plan to send a laser-equipped satellite into orbit to help remove space junk currently circling Earth.

The company is planning to launch the satellite in 2026, where it will target small pieces of debris that scientists worry could one day collide with other active satellites.

It will use a low-power laser designed to fire in short pulses, similar to a common technique used by dermatologists to eliminate skin blemishes.

The Japanese satellite company JSAT will launch a satellite in 2026 with a low-power laser to shoot space junk out of orbit and make it burn up in the Earth's atmosphere on re-entry

The Japanese satellite company JSAT will launch a satellite in 2026 with a low-power laser to shoot space junk out of orbit and make it burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere on re-entry

Rather than burn up entire pieces of space junk with the laser, 장지역피부과 the team is planning for it to melt a small targeted region of each piece of debris.

The melted area will emit some amount of gas as it melts, producing what the researcher hope will be enough force to redirect the junk onto an orbital path that will send it back into Earth’s atmosphere, where it will burn up completely.

‘Space debris poses a large-scale problem,’ JSAT’s Tadanori Fukushima told the .

‘I want to bring this socially significant project to fruition at any cost.’

The satellite will weigh between 600 and 700 pounds, pending final design considerations, 문정동 피부과 and will likely be placed into orbit somewhere between 350 above 600 miles above the Earth.

The JSAT satellite (right) will fire short laser pulses at pieces of space debris (left), which could be as big as entire decommissioned satellites. The pulses will release gas as a small part of the debris is melted, redirecting the junk downward into Earth's atmosphere

The JSAT satellite (right) will fire short laser pulses at pieces of space debris (left), which could be as big as entire decommissioned satellites.

The pulses will release gas as a small part of the debris is melted, redirecting the junk downward into Earth’s atmosphere

JSAT believes the threat of space junk will only become more dire as space travel and satellites become more common. 'We can't avoid the problem of space debris, which will become a threat to our business in the future,' JSAT president President Eiichi Yonekura said

JSAT believes the threat of space junk will only become more dire as space travel and satellites become more common. ‘We can’t avoid the problem of space debris, which will become a threat to our business in the future,’ JSAT president President Eiichi Yonekura said

That would put it within reach of most of the 170 million pieces of space junk currently believed to be orbiting Earth.

Most space junk measures just a few inches or less, consisting largely of small components that have fallen off of other satellites or rockets.

However, 문정동 피부과 scientists estimate there are more than 34,000 pieces of debris larger than four inches, some as big as full-sized, decommissioned satellites, and could cause serious damage to other active satellites in orbit.

‘We can’t avoid the problem of space debris, which will become a threat to our business in the future,’ JSAT president President Eiichi Yonekura said at a press conference announcing the project.

In the past, researchers have suggested using satellites with large nets to collect debris and remove it from orbit, but the JSAT team believes a low powered laser could be more effective and efficient.