Researchers have come up with a laser system to destroy space junk threatening the International Space Station.

Space_Junk

“Space Junk” by David.Shikomba – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

It may sound all a bit like the Death Star from Star Wars, but there is a serious risk to the space station from space junk. Even a metal screw could cause damage, which puts the fact that there could be as much as 3,000 tonnes of junk floating around the Earth into perspective.

Japanese researchers are installing a new “Extreme Universe Space Observatory” in the space station in 2017, reports the Daily Mirror.

And it could double as a precise system to track space junk.

A laser that could zap debris from up to 60 miles could be added, which could at least partially vaporise the junk, creating a burst of plasma knocking it off-course and hopefully into the Earth’s atmosphere where it would safely burn up. A test version could be ready by 2017.

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