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Laser guide star thingy
Posted: 18 January 2014 10:39 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I was reading about the laser guide star thingy at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_guide_star

Can I assume there is no chance of them slicing an aircraft in half in mid flight? Can I also assume it would take more time for it to get to a star than it would for a drunk snail to cross the road?

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Posted: 19 January 2014 12:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I think you would need a degree to answer those questions…

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Posted: 19 January 2014 12:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Dang (I hope that’s not a swear word for anybody).

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Posted: 19 January 2014 10:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Peter - 18 January 2014 10:39 PM

I was reading about the laser guide star thingy at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_guide_star

Can I assume there is no chance of them slicing an aircraft in half in mid flight? Can I also assume it would take more time for it to get to a star than it would for a drunk snail to cross the road?

I think you can safely assume that there is no chance of slicing an aircraft in half.  The laser that would be necessary for that would have to be huge and would require enough power to light half of New York.  It would also have to be trained on the aircraft for a while as laser cutting isn’t instantaneous.

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Posted: 20 January 2014 06:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Gray: those lasers actually *are* quite powerful, to reach up to that altitude. Even if it doesn’t slice aircraft in two, effects of a beam hit could not be pleasant (e.g. pilots could be blinded)

I do not know about every observatory, but I have been at an atmosphere research institute that operates a powerful LiDAR, which is basically a laser very similar to what we talking about here, but pulsing. That observatory used radar to automatically switch off the beam in case an aircraft came near.

In addition, I guess they issue NOTAM’s and perhaps temporarily close airspace when they operate the laser.

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Posted: 21 January 2014 02:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I agree a lot of lasers are certainly powerful to affect the pilots if shined in their eyes but Peter was asking about the possibility of cutting an aircraft in half which is something else.  Heck, you can cause blindness in a pilot with a laser pointer as has happened several times.  It usually happens on approach to the airport when some idiot decides it would be fun to try.  So for safety reasons they don’t allow lasers near airports as a precaution.  But a laser powerful enough to cut a plane in half at altitude has not been made.

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Posted: 21 January 2014 05:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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gray - 21 January 2014 02:18 PM

I agree a lot of lasers are certainly powerful to affect the pilots if shined in their eyes but Peter was asking about the possibility of cutting an aircraft in half which is something else.  Heck, you can cause blindness in a pilot with a laser pointer as has happened several times.  It usually happens on approach to the airport when some idiot decides it would be fun to try.  So for safety reasons they don’t allow lasers near airports as a precaution.  But a laser powerful enough to cut a plane in half at altitude has not been made.

True, but I do think some of these lasers are powerful enough to do serious damage to an aircraft. I have seen moths fly into the beam and being instantly vaporized.

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