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Experimental analysis of laser ablated plumes for asteroid deflection and exploitation

Gibbings, Alison, Vasile, Massimiliano, Watson, Ian, Hopkins, John-Mark, and Burns, David (2013) Experimental analysis of laser ablated plumes for asteroid deflection and exploitation. Acta Astronautica, 90 (1). pp. 85-97. ISSN 0094-5765 (doi:10.1016/j.actaastro.2012.07.008)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actaastro.2012.07.008

Abstract

It has been theoretically demonstrated that laser ablation is effective in the potential deflection and mitigation of asteroids. However, there have been few experimental studies to support this claim. The theoretical models are currently based on assumptions regarding the laser beam diameter, the power requirement, the formation of the ejecta plume, and the potential for ejecta to contaminate and otherwise degrade any exposed surface. Recent proposals suggesting the use of a solar pumped laser, in particular, can be deeply affected by the re-condensation of the ejecta. To either validate, amend and/or eliminate these assumptions a series of laser ablation experiments have been performed. Using a 90 W, continuous-wave laser operating at 808 nm, a rocky magnesium iron silica based material – olivine – has been ablated. These experiments were used to examine the validity of the theoretical model and the experienced levels of contamination. It will be shown that the current model correctly predicts the ablated mass flow rate for rocky based asteroids, but overestimates the contamination rate and the degradation of the optics.

Item Type:Article
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Watson, Dr Ian and Vasile, Dr Massimiliano
Authors: Gibbings, Alison, Vasile, Massimiliano, Watson, Ian, Hopkins, John-Mark, and Burns, David
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Systems Power and Energy
Journal Name:Acta Astronautica
Publisher:Elsevier B.V.
ISSN:0094-5765
Published Online:1 December 2012

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