The day: For the first time, researchers measure space debris with a conventional laser

At first glance, this news may not sound like spectacular. But what Swiss researchers have now achieved for the first time has enormous benefits. The team from the Astronomical Institute of the University of Bern said it was the first time Space debris measured in daylight – and did not have to use delicate lasers that could dazzle aircraft or satellites. They did this with so-called geodetic laser systems instead of using specialized high-power scrap lasers, as Thomas Schildknecht reports.

Accurate distance measurements on scrap parts are important to determine whether space objects such as satellites need to initiate expensive evasive maneuvers. The University of Bern announced that a total of around 20,000 larger scrap objects are known. So far, such measurements have only been possible a few hours after sunset and before sunrise, because the measuring station actually has to be in the shade and the object must be illuminated by the sun, as Schildknecht said. Now the observation succeeds by the combination of an active tracking of the scrap part with the help of a Special camera and one real-time digital filter to detect the photons reflected from the object.