Experimental analysis of laser ablation for asteroid deflection and exploitation

Alison Gibbings

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract

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Asteroids, the leftover debris from planetary formation, represent both an opportunity and a risk. Their pristine environment captures the early impact evolution of the solar system, whereas their impact risk could result in the mass extinction of life. This is considered to have happened once before, approximately 65 million years ago, with the mass extinction of the dinosaurs. It will happen again. It is only a matter of time. However, novel techniques are now being developed to mitigate and assess the impending asteroid-to-Earth impact risk. Specifically, asteroid deflection through laser ablation is considered to be a promising mitigation technique. This is achieved by
irradiating the surface of an asteroid with a laser light source. The resulting heat enables the surface rock to ablate, transforming the material directly from a solid to a gas. The ablated material then expands to form an ejecta plume. Over an extended period of time, this provides a continuous and controlled force that can be used to actively deviate small to medium size asteroids.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2012
EventSET for Britain 2012 - Westminster, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 12 Mar 201212 Mar 2012


ConferenceSET for Britain 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityWestminster, London


  • experimental analysis
  • laser ablation
  • asteroid deflection
  • asteroid exploitation


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