Laser-powered licence plates could help avoid satellite collisions

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Satellites can broadcast their identity

Johan Swanepoel / Alamy

Equipping satellites with laser-activated licence plates could help avoid collisions in space and track orbital debris, even if they lose power.

The number of satellites has rocketed in recent years thanks to the likes of SpaceX’s Starlink internet service, which accounts for around 60 per cent of the almost 10,000 satellites orbiting today. Many satellites identify themselves by broadcasting signals, but this can fail when satellites are close together, such as when they have just been launched on the same rocket.

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