st. CLOUD — A professor at St. Cloud State University was recently awarded a tool to help reduce space debris.
Dr. John E. Sinko, Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, was awarded the Gentec Electro-Optics Laser Lab Award in July. The award included the donation of his new Gentec-EO Beamage-4M laser beam and his profiler, which measures and analyzes the energy distribution across a powerful laser pulse.
Sinko’s research on laser orbital debris shows how to remove the masses of dead satellites, impact debris, rocket exhaust gases, and other objects that disrupt Earth’s orbit that endanger astronauts and functioning satellites. is part of a larger effort in the space science community to learn about
Dr. Cinco focused on small pieces of debris orbiting the Earth, which he explained were just as dangerous and noxious as large, visible pieces of space junk. “If you have something the size of a marble…it moves at 5,000 to 10,000 meters per second…if it hits the spacecraft, you’re done,” he said.
As for speed comparisons, he said it’s five times faster than the average rifle bullet. Sinko added that even the size of a grain of sand at the same speed is dangerous.
Sinko studies the physics of laser ablation of orbital debris cloud metals such as aluminum, stainless steel and tungsten. Beam profilers are important for studying how the energy distribution of a laser beam affects important parameters.
Laser Orbital Debris Removal is a ground-based, pulsed laser that pushes low Earth orbit debris outward and re-enters the atmosphere where it burns. This theory was developed through the lens of Kepler’s first law, which explains that orbital patterns are elliptical or elliptical.
More than 27,000 pieces of space debris have been tracked by the Department of Defense’s Global Space Surveillance Network sensors, according to NASA.
Gentec Electro-Optics specializes in laser beam and terahertz source measurements. Sinko says his laser beam profiler would cost about $5,000 if purchased rather than donated.
This story is clarified to make it clear that Dr. Shinko isn’t actively destroying space debris, he’s just collecting data to know how to do it.