It has been an eventful year for space enthusiasts, with it seeming like a new asteroid is announced every week, each one coming closer and closer to our blue marble. Then, just a few days ago, a large asteroid smashed into Russia, injuring over 1000 people. Now a researcher and a physicist have teamed up to propose a solution to the problem - a laser-beam generating solar-based asteroid destroyer that could destroy a space rock half the size of a football field in 30 minutes.
Philip M. Lubina, a physicist and professor from the University of California Santa Barbara, and Gary B. Hughes, a researcher and professor from California Polytechnic State University are responsible for the concept, which you can see in the image above. The project is called DE-STAR, which stands for Directed Energy Solar Targeting of Asteroids an exploRation.
The system will work by using solar panels to turn energy from the sun into a "phased array" of individual laser beams that are channeled into a single mega-laser beam that eradicates the asteroids, a la the Death Star. If the asteroid is too large, DE-STAR would work by deflecting it away from our fragile planet. The best part? The concept is based on technology that is widely available now.
Said Hughes, one of the two who developed the concept: "This system is not some far-out idea from Star Trek. All the components of this system pretty much exist today. Maybe not quite at the scale that we'd need –– scaling up would be the challenge –– but the basic elements are all there and ready to go. We just need to put them into a larger system to be effective, and once the system is there, it can do so many things."