Laser telescope can now spot small space debris from Earth

Chinese researchers say neural network-enhanced laser telescopes can spot orbital debris over a thousand kilometers away.

    2019/12/27

NSFW    BEIJING — China-based scientists have developed a way to use laser telescopes and neural network analysis to locate space debris.

According to a study in the Journal of Laser Applications, the team tested the method at the Beijing Fangshen laser range telescope station.

Citing the team leader Ma Tianming, the American Institute of Physics says the technology allows laser scopes to detect reflected laser light from small space debris with greater accuracy than before.

It can detect space junk with a cross-section of one square meter and a distance of 1,500 kilometers from earth.

According to the news release, neural networks are algorithms based on the human brain's sensory inputs, processing and outputs.

Using the neural network to fine-tune telescope readings, the team says their technology is the first to have significantly augmented laser ranging accuracy.

Researchers say refining the technology will enable telescopes to pinpoint orbital debris.

The paper states that locating the debris would then allow spacecraft to chart a safer course to avoid space junk.
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