Sure, sure, Star Wars beat them to it 30 years ago, but scientists won’t be getting points on originality, even if they rip off the name, too. A concept design for a massive laser weapon called “DE-STAR” is being built by scientists at UC Santa Barbara; the sci-fi inspired weapon is made of an array of laser beams that supposedly would be able to intercept an asteroid and deflect it.
Well, I believe the word used was “vaporize it”. Top that, Darth Vader. The “DE-STAR” – no, not Death Star, De-Star – otherwise known as Directed Energy System for Targeting of Asteroids and exploRation, is a concept that has been around for several years – namely since the release of Star Wars Episode IV, we believe – but only recently was presented as a viable solution for warding off dangerous asteroids.
Researchers imagine that the laser beam would travel beside an asteroid and eventually deflect its path from Earth’s over a longer period of time. However, the main challenge facing them is building a DE-STAR in the necessary scale for it to be effective. But how would the lasers destroy an asteroid, anyway?
According to a paper published in the journal of Earth and Planetary Astrophysics this year, an explanation is given about how lasers could potentially move or vaporize asteroids; it is said that an orbital planetary defense system could heat the asteroid to the point of vaporization. When the solids or liquids of the asteroid are turned into gas, this gas causes a mass ejection, or plume cloud, that generates an equal opposite thrust that would cause the asteroid to head in the other direction.
So let’s all pray this thing works; next thing, we’ll be getting wookies to fix them up, huh? Sheesh, talk about originality…