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Space debris removal by non-destructive orbit modification using ground-based high-power lasers

Scharring, Stefan and Kästel, Jürgen (2023) Space debris removal by non-destructive orbit modification using ground-based high-power lasers. 2nd International Orbital Debris Conference, 2023-12-04 - 2023-12-07, Sugar Land, Texas, USA.

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Accelerated deterioration of ecosystems naturally expands situational awareness from sustainability efforts towards emergency response. While this holds true for, e.g., climate change, the current evolution of Earth’s orbital environment develops into a status demanding for short-term action far beyond sustainability measures for space debris mitigation. Possibly not being the most relevant option for space sustainability efforts, high-power lasers might nonetheless play a significant role in response to the increasing number of known debris objects. Lasers, however, with a perception ranging from well-known everyday life applications via technology optimism and weaponization efforts up to visionary propulsion concepts, demand for a thoughtful assessment of their beneficial as well as their destructive potential regarding thermo-mechanical interaction with space debris. In our work we present a holistic approach to realistically assess conceivable contributions of ground-based highpower laser technology for mitigation of the space debris situation in the low Earth orbit. Departing from experimental work on laser-induced momentum coupling, our simulations cover aspects of beam transmission like atmospheric extinction, turbulence compensation, and beam pointing jitter. Laser-matter interaction is computed considering different generic target shapes, various target materials as well as the dependency of thermo-mechanical coupling on the incident laser fluence. Moreover, estimates are derived on the debris remediation performance of a repetitive 100 kJ laser system for perigee lowering to achieve atmospheric burnup after multiple laser station overpasses. The related laser irradiation constraints for operational safety are explored in terms of the target’s thermo-mechanical integrity throughout the entire orbit modification maneuver.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/201359/
Document Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)
Title:Space debris removal by non-destructive orbit modification using ground-based high-power lasers
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iDORCID Put Code
Date:6 December 2023
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:No
Keywords:Space debris, debris removal, orbit modification, perigee lowering, high power lasers, dual use, Kessler syndrome, space sustainability, laser ablation, laser heating, debris fragments, laser weapons, high energy lasers
Event Title:2nd International Orbital Debris Conference
Event Location:Sugar Land, Texas, USA
Event Type:international Conference
Event Start Date:4 December 2023
Event End Date:7 December 2023
Organizer:USRA Lunar and Planetary Institute
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Space System Technology
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R SY - Space System Technology
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Project Use of Lasers for the Detection of Space Debris
Location: Stuttgart
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Technical Physics > Active Optical Systems
Institute of Technical Physics > Solid State Lasers and Nonlinear Optics
Deposited By: Scharring, Stefan
Deposited On:09 Jan 2024 12:28
Last Modified:24 Apr 2024 21:01

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