Another day, another use for laser technology. This time around, we’re here to report on the European Space Observatory’s Paranal Observatory using four extremely powerful lasers alongside a large telescope for space exploration.
The four lasers used look resemble something like Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon seen in Star Wars. While the Death Star may be fictional and use seemingly far-fetched technology during its first appearance back in 1977, we’ve actually reached a point where we’re capable of building such a thing.
Anyway, this set of four highly powerful lasers was first turned on this past week at the European Space Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in a remote desert in Chile known as the Atacama Desert. After being in development for years and years, these four lasers, designed as a guide for telescopes, were finally illuminated.
While many astronomers out there use lasers to point out constellations while stargazing or help guide their telescopes, we’ve never seen a setup as powerful as this one. With this new technology, scientists are looking to get a clearer view of the universe beyond our humble abode we call Earth.
Being on Mother Earth, we’ve separated from other galaxies by the Earth’s atmospheric turbulence. While the atmosphere may make for some pretty skies and twinkling stars, it makes it difficult to capture crisp images of the night sky. This is why such powerful laser technology is being used currently.
Once the lasers are turned on, they excite sodium atoms that reside within the Earth’s upper atmosphere, creating a fluorescent glow among the atmosphere’s molecules.
While the main purpose of these powerful lasers is to help us take better pictures of the night sky and our surrounding galaxies, there are some scientists who believe we should be using this technology to help hide ourselves from aliens. One of those scientists is Stephen Hawking, who believes that by making ourselves known we’re inviting intelligent aliens who could potentially destroy humanity as we know it.
If you’re a stargazer and want a good laser for astronomy, check out our page dedicated to astronomy laser pointers!