On February 15, Asteroid 2012 DA14, an asteroid about half of the size of a football field, flew extremely close to Earth. Recently, a meteor about 55 feet in diameter and weighing 10,000 tons crashed into Earth, landing in Russia.

Scientists are now thinking of a way to start the vaporization of these asteroids from distances as far away as the sun.

Philip M. Lubin, a UCSB physicist and professor and California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo professor and researcher, Gary B. Hughes are the main researchers of this project. They created DE-STAR, or Directed Energy Solar Targeting of Asteroids and exploRation, which is a hypothetical system intended to eliminate the asteroids and comets by using some of the power released from the sun.

DE-STAR will not only remove threats but will also be able to completely change an asteroid’s orbit. In addition, this system may be able to aid in determining the composition of asteroids to allow for more profitable mining and act as an orbiting source for increased deep space exploration.

There are many variables that affect the construction of such an advanced system. The possibilities of size are endless from a regular-sized desktop instrument to something that is about six miles in diameter. The researchers also need to assess what size device will produce the greatest benefit considering the types of asteroids that will approach Earth in the future.




A version of this article appeared on page 12 of February 26th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus