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Author Topic: off topic question about satellites  (Read 1199 times)
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I have a question and I don't know where to ask it on the internet. Lets say a Google or spy satellite is looking down on you, about 20 feet above your head. If you point a burning laser pointer at the satellite and it picks it up zoomed in on you could you damage the satellite?

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Your question doesn't make much sense.
Google uses aircraft, and both they and spy satellites fly a good deal higher than 20 feet.
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If a spy satellite is twenty feet above your head, either you are in LEO, or it's about to hit the deck hard.
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No, I meant what looks like 20 feet, as in once the satellite zooms in on you from space it would appear 20 feet in the video.
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Why not give it a try?
After all, they're only moving at 7.5kms-1
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If you point a burning laser pointer at the satellite and it picks it up zoomed in on you could you damage the satellite?
Maybe?   I think the real question is if you're more likely to score a direct hit or win the lottery?  Of course if it is "burning" you probably don't want to hold on to it for long enough to try.

And you certainly don't want to go waving it around in the air...
Why not give it a try?
After all, they're only moving at 7.5kms-1
In the United States, it is a fine-able offense to shine laser pointers at the cockpits of airplanes. 
http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/consumerawareness/a/Fine-For-Pointing-Laser-At-Airplane.htm
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Laser pointers lose power/disperse over distance.  your typical 5mw laser pointer drop to below .1 uW/cm^2 at around 2 miles away.  So when it reaches a satellite at anywhere from 100 to thousands of miles away, it's intensity is going to be so miniscule that there's no chance of damaging anything at all.
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So how do you shine a laser into a cockpit if the pane is flying overhead. It needs to be at an angle before you do that.
As to the OP question no you will do no damage at all, sending a laser through so much air is going to disperse it so that you have not got a concentrated spot at all.
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So how do you shine a laser into a cockpit if the pane is flying overhead. It needs to be at an angle before you do that.
The link I gave is one article, another I saw on a law blog.  It is common around airports, so I suppose people are getting near the runways and finding places with line of sight?  I can't imagine why anyone would bother.
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Folks have played around pointing laser pointers at aircraft.

A laser pointer is a fine beam of bright light and it can temporarily blind or distract a pilot. Having this happen near the ground is a bad thing as it greatly increases the chance of a bad outcome. If the laser ointer only passes across the pilots sight it can cause him to look for the source of the light to check for a potential collision and also distract him at a time when he is approaching the ground...
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I have a question and I don't know where to ask it on the internet. Lets say a Google or spy satellite is looking down on you, about 20 feet above your head. If you point a burning laser pointer at the satellite and it picks it up zoomed in on you could you damage the satellite?



The zooming of a satellite's optics does not make the craft any closer to you then it is when not zooming it's optics in. Besides you could not afford the mechanical aiming/tracking mount to allow a laser to actually hit a orbiting satellite. Minimum low earth orbit height is around 100 miles up or more.

Lefty
 
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