Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty
Our Projects

Laser Bees

A New Way to Deflect a Dangerous Asteroid

What do we do if an asteroid is found to be on a collision course with Earth? At this point, the answer is not clear, so The Planetary Society has partnered with researchers to discover ways to protect Earth when we one-day find a dangerous space rock.

We've been working with a team at the University of Strathclyde and the University of Glasgow in Scotland to study a new technique which uses concentrated light to gently move an asteroid -- a project we called "Mirror Bees" -- using mirrors on several spacecraft swarming around an asteroid to focus sunlight onto a spot on the asteroid. As part of the initial Mirror Bees project, researchers found that lasers are more effective than mirrors and can be used from greater distances. So, now the project is called "Laser Bees."

The researchers at the University of Strathclyde and the University of Glasgow, under the leadership of Massimiliano Vasile, became interested in this approach when they set out to compare nine approaches to planetary defense. To their surprise, one of their results was that Mirror Bees would work more quickly and effectively than all but nuclear warheads. (But unlike the use of nuclear explosions, there would be no risk of breaking a huge asteroid into any number of equally deadly smaller asteroids, nor would the procedure face as many political and bureaucratic hurdles.)

Project Updates

Laser Bees Papers

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2013/07/11 06:17 CDT | 5 comments

For those wishing to bore into more details of our Laser Bees project itself, graduate student Alison Gibbings from the University of Strathclyde has sent their technical paper that resulted from the 2013 Planetary Defense Conference.

Read More »

Planetary Society Hangout: LaserBees, Asteroids, and Planet Vacuums

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/06/13 12:39 CDT | 1 comment

We check in with Dr. Bruce Betts, our Director of Projects, on the latest from our current programs funded by our members.

Read More »

Planetary Defense Conference 2013 Part 3

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2013/06/12 09:19 CDT | 3 comments

Part 3 of Bruce Betts' wrap up from the Planetary Defense Conference 2013 focuses on the Laser Bees (asteroid deflection method) project and Laser Bees researcher Alison Gibbings.

Read More »

Items 4 - 6 of 10  Previous1234Next

Section Highlights

What Are Laser Bees

This technique involves many small spacecraft -- each carrying a laser -- swarming around a near-Earth asteroid. The spacecraft could precisely focus their powerful lasers pumped by sunlight onto a tiny spot on the asteroid, vaporizing the rock and metal, and creating a jet plume of super-heated gases and debris. The asteroid would become the fuel for its own rocket -- and slowly, the asteroid would move into a new trajectory.

More »

Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

JOIN THE
PLANETARY SOCIETY

Beyond The Horizon, There's More To Explore!

Become a member of The Planetary Society and together we will create the future of space exploration.

Join Us

Essential Advocacy

Our Advocacy Program 
provides each Society member 
a voice in the process.



Funding is critical. The more 
we have, the more effective 
we can be, translating into more 
missions, more science, 
and more exploration.

Donate

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Join The Planetary Society

Let’s explore the cosmos together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!