In California, two scientists are proposing a system project called Directed Energy Solar Targeting of Asteroids and exploRation (DE-STAR) that can possibly reduce asteroids and meteor threats to planet Earth. The timing seems perfect after the Asteroid 2012 DA14 near-Earth flyby and Russia meteor blast that both occurred last February 15, 2013.
Philip M. Lubin, a physicist and professor at the University of California, together with Gary B. Hughes, a researcher and professor at the California Polytechnic State University, revealed the proposals for their DE-STAR project. According to the scientists, the suggested project could minimize or eliminate threat to planet Earth coming from asteroids and meteors.
"We need to be proactive rather than reactive in dealing with threats. Duck and cover is not an option. We can actually do something about it and it's credible to do something," Professor Lubin stated. All of the proposed DE-STAR satellites are designed to convert the collected energy from the Sun into a massive phased array of laser beams that can destroy or evaporate threatening asteroids and meteors approaching Earth.
"This system is not some far-out idea from Star Trek," Hughes said.
"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," Professor Hughes explained.
The scientists' DE-STAR project proposals are:
1. DE-STAR 2. The satellite's size is comparable to the International Space Station and it could deflect large asteroids into safe orbits away from planet Earth as well as the Sun.
2. DE-STAR 4. It weighs 100 times the size of the ISS and this system could vaporize a space rock within a year.
3. DE-STAR 6. According to Professor Lubin, the system could "enable interstellar travel by functioning as a massive, orbiting power source and propulsion system for spacecraft. It could propel a 10-ton spacecraft near the speed of light, allowing interstellar exploration to become a reality without waiting for science fiction technology such as "warp drive" to come along."
Furthermore, the DE-STAR project could become helpful tools in evaluating the asteroid's composition which could make the element-mining idea possible.
"There are large asteroids and comets that cross the Earth's orbit and some very dangerous ones going to hit the Earth eventually. Many have hit in the past and many will hit in the future. We should feel compelled to do something about the risk. Realistic solutions need to be considered, and this is definitely one of those," Professor Lubin stated.