Engineers Develop Lasers to Deflect Asteroids

Researchers at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, are developing a suite of satellites armed with powerful lasers to change the course of asteroids that threaten Earth. 

What's the Latest Development?


Engineers at a Scottish university are developing laser technology capable of saving all life on Earth should an errant asteroid threaten the planet. A swarm of space satellites flying in formation, cooperatively firing solar powered lasers onto their target, could be more effective than current designs for a single, unwieldy spacecraft. Dr Massimiliano Vasile, of Strathclyde University's Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering said: "The approach we are developing would involve sending small satellites, capable of flying in formation with the asteroid and firing their lasers targeting the asteroid at close range."

What's the Big Idea?

In the short term, the same laser technology could be used to clean up the potentially menacing field of space junk speeding around the planet above its atmosphere. Currently, the amount of space junk could create what is known as the Kessler syndrome, when "the density becomes so high that collisions between objects could cause an exponentially increasing cascade of other collisions." As human communication networks rely heavily on space satellites, any series of collisions could have far ranging consequences. 

Photo credit: shutterstock.com


A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Keep reading Show less

Science confirms: Earth has more than one 'moon'

Two massive clouds of dust in orbit around the Earth have been discussed for years and finally proven to exist.

J. Sliz-Balogh, A. Barta and G. Horvath
Surprising Science
  • Hungarian astronomers have proven the existence of two "pseudo-satellites" in orbit around the earth.
  • These dust clouds were first discovered in the sixties, but are so difficult to spot that scientists have debated their existence since then.
  • The findings may be used to decide where to put satellites in the future and will have to be considered when interplanetary space missions are undertaken.
Keep reading Show less

New study reveals what time we burn the most calories

Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.

Photo: Victor Freitas / Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
  • While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
  • Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
Keep reading Show less