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Is Planetary Defense Feasible? DE-STAR: A planetary defense system

SETI Institute

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM (PST)

Mountain View, CA

Is Planetary Defense Feasible? DE-STAR: A planetary...

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Is Planetary Defense Feasible - DE-STAR: A Planetary Defense and Exploration System

 
Philip Lubin
UCSB

death star

Dr. Lubin will discuss how his team has proposed an orbital planetary defense system that is capable of beamed power allowing a number of directed energy (DE) possibilities including planetary defense, propulsion allowing relativistic probes and interstellar communications using existing technologies. Recent developments in photonics allow such a system whereas even a decade ago it would have been simply science fiction. 

While designed primarily for DE planetary defense to heat the surface of potentially hazardous objects to the evaporation point to mitigate asteroid threats the system is inherently multi functional with a number of additional applications including relativistic beamed spacecraft propulsion and interstellar and even intergalactic scale communications (modulo time of flight of course).

The main objective of DE-STAR would be to use the focused directed energy to raise the surface spot temperature of an asteroid to >3000K, allowing direct evaporation of all known substances. The same system is also capable of propelling spacecraft to relativistic speeds to allow rapid interplanetary travel and relativistic interstellar probes. The baseline system for full planetary defense against any known threat is a DE-STAR 4 (10km sized array) system which allows for asteroid engagement starting beyond 1AU (mean Earth-Sun distance) with a spot of 30 m at 1 AU. This is an extremely conservative approach and a smaller DE-STAR 3 (1 km array) allows for reasonable planetary defense. The baseline system is also capable of propelling a 102, 103, 104 kg spacecraft to 1 AU in 3,10,30 days with speeds of about 0.4% the speed of light when used in a “photon rail gun mode”.

The same system can also be used for communications out to extremely large distance. For example all the known Kepler planets would see the DE-STAR beacon as the brightest star in the sky (assuming their sky is like ours). The system is also visible at intergalactic distances (Andromeda for example). This brings up the question of a visible/ IR SETI search that we will discuss and their implications. Smaller systems are also extremely useful and can be built now.While decidedly futuristic in its outlook many of the core technologies now exist and small systems can be built to test the basic concepts as the technology improves. In this talk we will review the potential for standoff protection, relativistic propulsion, long range interstellar communications and SETIsearches as well as the key technologies.

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When & Where


SETI Institute
189 N Bernardo Ave
Mountain View, CA 94043

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM (PST)


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SETI Institute

The mission of the SETI Institute is to explore, understand and explain the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the universe.

We believe we are conducting the most profound search in human history — to know our beginnings and our place among the stars.

The SETI Institute is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to scientific research, education and public outreach.

Every week the SETI Institute hosts a lecture series that is open to the public, provides free PB&J's and gives people a unique opportunity to interact with some of the world's leading space scientists.

For past videos, upcoming events and full event details, go to seti.org/talks.

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