[meteorite-list] laser tweezers

From: Darren Garrison <cynapse_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2007 13:55:44 -0500
Message-ID: <g3sdv2hgib0t2tem6sac9st0626ud33l31_at_4ax.com>

On Tue, 13 Mar 2007 16:31:09 -0000, you wrote:

>I have heard of devices called 'laser tweezers' which can actually move
>material around, since space is a vacuum, and if you had sufficiently
>large lasers could they not be made to collect microscopic samples and
>move them around, perhaps pull dust off the surface of an asteroid onto
>to an orbiting space vehicle? Or similar?

Doesn't seem feasable to me. For one thing, the lasers push, not pull. So to
knock something off an asteroid (even one small enough that the laser could
overcome gravity without vaporizing the microscopic sample) it would have to be
"shot" from a tangental angle to the surface, "launching" the sample at a
spacecraft in the opposite direction. Even if possible, it sounds too Rube
Goldbergy to be reasonable. I would think someting like an "anti-vacuum" would
be a better method-- on the Earth, you can use a partial vacuum to suck up dust
and small particles (see http://www.oreck.com/) but obviously that wouldn't work
in space. So why not make an atmosphere and THEN use a vacuum? Have a lander
push down a tube firmly against the surface. Blow some sort of gas (maybe N2
from a pressurized container) into the regolith into a collecting tube. Should
come up with some samples. Or just put a scoop on an arm to scoop it up. Or go
even simpler-- sticky tape on a stick. Or, my prefered move, nudge Aphophis
into a lunar orbit, disect it at our leasure.
Received on Tue 13 Mar 2007 02:55:44 PM PDT

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