Experimental characterization of the thrust induced by laser ablation on an asteroid

Gibbings, A., Vasile, M., Hopkins, J.-M., Burns, D. and Watson, I. (2013) Experimental characterization of the thrust induced by laser ablation on an asteroid. In: IAA Planetary Defense Conference, Flagstaff AZ, USA, 15-19 Apr 2013, (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This paper presents an improved laser ablation model and compares the performance – Δv and mass efficiency - of laser ablation against contactless deflection methods based on ion-propulsion. The deflection of an asteroid through laser ablation is achieved by illuminating the surface of the asteroid with a high intensity laser light. The absorbed energy induces the sublimation of the surface material and the generation of a plume of gas and ejecta. Similar to a rocket engine, the flow of expelled material produces a continuous and controllable thrust that could be used to modify the trajectory and tumbling motion of the asteroid. Recent results gained from a series of laser ablation experiments were used to improve the sublimation and deflection models. In each experiment a terrestrial olivine sample was ablated, under vacuum, with a 90 W continuous wave laser. The outcomes of the experimental campaign have enabled the mathematic model, and its defining assumptions to be evaluated and updated

Item Type:Conference Proceedings
Status:Unpublished
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Watson, Dr Ian and Vasile, Dr Massimiliano
Authors: Gibbings, A., Vasile, M., Hopkins, J.-M., Burns, D., and Watson, I.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Aerospace Sciences
College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Systems Power and Energy

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