It’s the ultimate science fiction: The immense power of the sun is harnessed and converted into a massive phased array of laser beams that have the potential to intercept and deflect asteroids before they smash into Earth.
But in this case, fiction may actually be closer to reality. DE-STAR, or Directed Energy System for Targeting of Asteroids and exploRation, the brainchild of UC Santa Barbara physicist Philip Lubin and Gary B. Hughes, a researcher and professor at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, is designed to do exactly that.
And that’s not all. The DE-STAR system could be leveraged for many other uses, such as stopping the rotation of a spinning asteroid and achieving relativistic propulsion.