These Mirrors Could Give Satellites Their Own Dust-Busting Space Lasers

By PJ Smith on at

Anyone who's watched Gravity knows debris is always worse in space. Even dust, which can meddle with satellite sensors and cause all kinds of trouble—until now. Thanks to science, lasers are coming to the rescue.

The engineering folks at Fraunhofer have developed a unique thermic-piezoelectric deformable mirror that won't break while focusing high-powered lasers. When focusing a laser, the mirror heats up because it's made of copper and ceramic. But as it starts to deform, pressure sensors detect the deformation and adjust the temperature to meet the demands of the laser beam. Then, it flexes to focus the laser-beam without shattering the mirror. In short, it makes dust-busting space-lasers practical.

The scientists don't think it'll be long before our satellites are all fitted with these laser-focusing dust-blasters to keep satellite sensors clean. It's just a matter of how long it'll be before we launch a stadium-sized one into orbit to finally make Star Wars a reality.[Fraunhofer]