Presentation Title

Laser ablation thrust measurements for asteroid deflection

Faculty Mentor

Philip Lubin

Start Date

17-11-2018 12:30 PM

End Date

17-11-2018 2:30 PM

Location

CREVELING 44

Session

POSTER 2

Type of Presentation

Poster

Subject Area

physical_mathematical_sciences

Abstract

Asteroids pose a recurring threat to Earth. Some, like the Chelyabinsk bolide over Siberia in 2013, cause major disruption to human interests (33M USD in damages) and numerous injuries. To mitigate this threat, we propose a phased laser array to deflect approaching asteroids or other dangerous near-Earth objects (NEOs). The laser array would ablate the NEO’s surface, inducing mass ejection, that would then cause a reactant thrust on the NEO in the opposite direction of the laser. To verify this concept in a laboratory environment, this work quantitatively measured the thrust induced on basalt and other asteroid regolith simulant by a 350 W laser array. By placing the sample target on a torsion balance and measuring its angle of deflection under ablation, it is possible to calculate the induced thrust per unit watt. This angular change is measured with a secondary laser that reflects off of the torsion balance into an optical position sensor. By comparing this paper’s experimental results with prior theoretical and computational work, we can surmise a theoretical relationship between NEO size and required laser power for future NEO deflection missions.

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Nov 17th, 12:30 PM Nov 17th, 2:30 PM

Laser ablation thrust measurements for asteroid deflection

CREVELING 44

Asteroids pose a recurring threat to Earth. Some, like the Chelyabinsk bolide over Siberia in 2013, cause major disruption to human interests (33M USD in damages) and numerous injuries. To mitigate this threat, we propose a phased laser array to deflect approaching asteroids or other dangerous near-Earth objects (NEOs). The laser array would ablate the NEO’s surface, inducing mass ejection, that would then cause a reactant thrust on the NEO in the opposite direction of the laser. To verify this concept in a laboratory environment, this work quantitatively measured the thrust induced on basalt and other asteroid regolith simulant by a 350 W laser array. By placing the sample target on a torsion balance and measuring its angle of deflection under ablation, it is possible to calculate the induced thrust per unit watt. This angular change is measured with a secondary laser that reflects off of the torsion balance into an optical position sensor. By comparing this paper’s experimental results with prior theoretical and computational work, we can surmise a theoretical relationship between NEO size and required laser power for future NEO deflection missions.