Australian laser tracking system will zap space debris

Updated: 2010-07-21 11:53
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An Australian company Tuesday said it had developed a laser tracking system that will stop chunks of space debris from colliding with spacecraft and satellites in the Earth's orbit.

Electric Optic Systems said lasers fired from the ground would locate and track debris as small as 10 centimeters (four inches) across, protecting astronauts and satellites.

"We can track them to very high precision so that we can predict whether there are going to be collisions with other objects or not," said Craig Smith, the company's CEO.

Smith said the technology improved upon existing radar systems because it could detect tiny objects left behind by disused rockets and satellites which can still devastate hardware because they are traveling at ultra-high speeds.

He said there were an estimated 200,000 objects measuring less than one centimeter floating in orbit, with another 500,000 of one centimeter in size or larger.

"It ranges from bus-size bits of rocket bodies all the way down to a little half-a-millimeter fleck of paint," Smith said from the company's headquarters in Canberra, Australia.


1. How will the new tracking company track space debris?

2. How can rockets and satellites that are no longer in use hurt working satellites?

3. What is the range in size of space debris?


1. Electric Optic Systems uses lasers fired from the ground to locate and track debris.

2. The debris can hurt working satellites because the debris, even if very small, is traveling at ultra-high speeds.

3. The company says space debris ranges in size from bus-size pieces of rockets to half-a-millimeter flecks of paint.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Australian laser tracking system will zap space debris

About the broadcaster:

Australian laser tracking system will zap space debris

Renee Haines is an editor and broadcaster at China Daily. Renee has more than 15 years of experience as a newspaper editor, radio station anchor and news director, news-wire service reporter and bureau chief, magazine writer, book editor and website consultant. She came to China from the United States.