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I love my Death Star. There is nothing more thrilling than pulverizing a planet and feeling the inhabitants screaming out in terror.

However, my Death Star seems to have developed a case of Kessler Syndrome. Fragments of the planets, moons, and ships that we have destroyed get pulled into orbit around our space station. They crash into each other, breaking up into smaller pieces, and forming a debris field.

This has caused problems with our fully armed and operational battlestation. Wreckage has damaged portions of the base's superstructure. Several TIE fighters sent out on patrol have been lost by collisions with debris. And every time a dignitary visits on a shuttlecraft, I cross my bionic fingers that they arrive and depart safely. I am so frustrated that I feel like strangling an admiral.

What can be done to rid my moon-sized fortress of this pitiful problem?

Kessler Syndrome


There are a large number of queries regarding the Kessler Syndrome. While this one's clever, does it really ask anything substantially different from several of the other "how do I deal with junk clouds around a space body" questions? – elemtilas

The certainly are a few other (1,2) questions on the topic. Those questions ask for answers, or answers that are realistic in our world.

Those existing questions reject answers based in science fiction. This means that there would be no place anywhere for answers based on tractor beams, shield generators, or other sci-fi technologies. Most of the answers already submitted to this question would have no place, anywhere. That's why this question is necessary.

I totally understand the concern about opening up an endless variety of similar questions. There's little to be gained by having a different question for each sci-fi franchise. The Star Wars universe is rich enough that most concepts found in other franchises have a solution in its universe as well. In other words, had the question been already posted in the context of Star Trek, then this question would have been a duplicate of that, as the answers would be substantially the same. Therefore, one question for sci-fi based answers is sufficient.

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    $\begingroup$ What kind of answer are you looking for, since you don't want it to be science based? $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Apr 28 at 17:25
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    $\begingroup$ Sounds like you need a Mega Maid. $\endgroup$ – kikirex Apr 28 at 18:18
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    $\begingroup$ There are a large number of queries regarding the Kessler Syndrome. While this one's clever, does it really ask anything substantially different from several of the other "how do I deal with junk clouds around a space body" questions? $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Apr 28 at 19:50
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    $\begingroup$ By opening the question up to non science-based answers but failing to indicate the constraints for selecting a best answer you've made your question primarily opinion-based. Our help center explains that questions must be specific and answerable, must include context, must include restrictions/requirements, and should include research. You've not provided all of that. VTC OT:POB. $\endgroup$ – JBH Apr 29 at 4:03
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    $\begingroup$ I am puzzled, why would anyone think this is a duplicate of the question it is marked as a duplicate of? The other question is about avoiding the Kessler syndrome when you have lots of space stations in orbit. This question is about something that is specifically designed to create lots of debris and does not permanently orbit anything. There should be no overlap between valid answers? Marking this POB seems more reasonable but probably overlooks how specific a reference "Death Star" is. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Apr 29 at 8:40

12 Answers 12

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Your Death Star has a hyperdrive, right? Well, the debris doesn't.

Even if it maneuvers just at sublight speed, debris won't settle into orbit. If there is a debris problem, it is being hit by fragments, not being orbited by fragments. You'd probably want to avoid that.

If we think back to TESB, the Star Destroyer Avenger dumped trash which was presumably not taken along into FTL. So debris in close proximity but not in contact with the Death Star will not be taken along, either.

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  • $\begingroup$ It's my understanding that the danger is to any smaller craft coming to or leaving the station, not the debris hitting the station itself. $\endgroup$ – Ryan_L Apr 28 at 18:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Ryan_L Just hyperdrive a few thousand kilometers away, the old debris will not follow the station and fly away $\endgroup$ – Ferrybig Apr 28 at 19:12
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    $\begingroup$ The station will however hit any debris in its path, and at light speed even a paint fleck is going to cause a lot of damage. $\endgroup$ – John Apr 28 at 23:23
  • $\begingroup$ /me half-remembers quote about not wanting to fly right through a star. At light speed any object is basically a nuclear bomb. $\endgroup$ – l0b0 Apr 29 at 0:32
  • $\begingroup$ @John, a ship in hyperdrive travels faster than light and leaves this "universe" to do it. $\endgroup$ – o.m. Apr 29 at 4:42
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Capitalism

Sell salvage rights to the worlds you don't destroy. They'll pay you for the privilege.

Most of the exploded planet bits will not stick around in your orbit as you move from star system to star system. There will still be a fair amount of debris, so salvage won't get rid of all of it. But it will make a sizable dent. Enough to greatly reduce damage to your shuttles and other craft, as well as to your Death Star's systems.

Every year or so, make a stop at Al's Pancake House and Super Salvage World. Give your crew a much needed vacation and let Al's equipment attract all that debris away from you. Leave lighter and freer and ready to take on new challenges in planet busting.

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This cannot actually happen.

To get the Kessler syndrome you need to start with objects in orbit which then collide with each other in a cascade. None of the planets or moons you destroyed was in orbit around the Death Star, thus the debris cannot cause a Kessler effect.

Now you can argue that the amount of debris generated is simply so large that some of the debris ended up in colliding with other debris in a way that caused it to end up in orbit around the Death Star. And, why not. Planets capture moons, star capture planets. Why could the Death Star not capture some debris?

Well, that is because the Death Star is mobile. It has sub-light drives that can accelerate it. There are no stable orbits around it that anything could be captured to. Hence debris orbiting it cannot accumulate and cannot cause Kessler syndrome.

And, as others have mentioned, it is unlikely that any debris in orbit would survive going to hyperspace. Or approaching a planetary body under power. Or firing that "super-laser". It puts out lots of power and would give any nearby debris a good shove. And, if we are talking about Star Wars Death Star, much of its gravity field is a side effect of its power plants and drives, meaning that its gravity field would almost certainly fluctuate when firing the gun.

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Do you not have a giant death ray at your disposal?

Dial it down a notch and use it to gently push the debris away, or dial it up and turn the debris near you into an ionised gas you can then siphon into your very scientifically rigorous plasma conduits.

Either way: bye bye debris!

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    $\begingroup$ Change nozzle setting from "strong spray" to "fine mist" and there you go. $\endgroup$ – Willk Apr 28 at 18:48
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    $\begingroup$ There's a lack of evidence that imperial troops can hit anything smaller than a planet, and you're asking them to hit lots of very small fast things. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Apr 29 at 8:14
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Well assuming its just like in Star Wars, you have the technology to control gravity. Just turn it off for a few hours, maybe a day, and all the debris will naturally move away under its own inertia.

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    $\begingroup$ Was there any example in Star Wars where control of gravity was asserted in a wide area around an object? The Death Star, for example, only seemed to control gravity on board, not outside. The problem of attracting debris comes, as far as I understand, merely from the size and density of the ship. It might be possible to turn on something which eliminates or reverses the gravity around the ship, but the question would then be how much energy is required for that. $\endgroup$ – NotThatGuy Apr 29 at 3:32
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    $\begingroup$ I assume when you say "turn it off", you mean "cancel the ship natural gravity" and not "just turn off artificial gravity". The Death Star being moon-sized, it should already have a pretty strong gravity by itself. In the Star Wars Universe, this sadly isn't something mentioned as possible. Since the frame of the question is not defined, it still on the table tho, but your answer could use a little clarification. $\endgroup$ – Nyakouai Apr 29 at 7:29
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Do a fly-by near a planet (preferably with atmosphere).

You might think that your Death Star is huge, but actually that is just because it is yours.

When compared to most planets, your Death Star is small and, more importantly, light1.

Just go near enough of a big orbital body and let that body gravity's do the work. There may be some inconveniences by part of the debris landing on your Death Star (instead of on the cleaning body), but if that was much of an issue your Death Star would already suffered a lot from the impacts when the Kessler body was created.

Additionally, if your selected celestial body has an atmosphere, the upper layers of it, while thin, can still help to slow the Kessler objects and make them fall from orbit (in either direction) faster.


1Ok, actually with a small mass would be a better term, as an object in space will have zero weight.

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Let your enemy fix the problem for you.

Your Death Star seems to be suffering from excessive orbital debris. No problem! There is an obvious solution to this issue that no one else has suggested. (As an added bonus, this is a tried and true method.) All you need to do is intentionally include some glaring weaknesses in your Death Star design. Once you start to notice the orbital debris becoming an issue, make sure that detailed plans of your superweapon platform somehow get into enemy hands. Then, simply wait for some rebels to come and blow up your problem for you. They will think they have won a great victory, but in reality they will have merely sacrificed dozens of their own ships to help you fulfill your master plan. With the old debris-ridden battlesation out of the way, you can rebuild your Death Star yet again. Not only can you rebuild this version with those all-leather interiors that you've always wanted, but more importantly there will be no giant debris field orbiting your newly constructed battlestation. Problem solved!

TL;DR Just nuke it and build a new one whenever the debris becomes a problem.

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    $\begingroup$ Just don't make the mistake they made last time they tried it, and leave VIPs on board :) $\endgroup$ – Shadow Apr 29 at 0:57
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Lasers and Controlled Explosions

By using lasers and explosive to break the debris into smaller pieces, it significantly reduces the damage they could cause due to the reduced mass. You may also be able to mine any resources you find in the debris. A series of controlled explosions may be able to move some of the larger debris away from the station rather than trying to completely destroy it.

A further possibility is to use a ship like a plow or using a net. You would fly the ship near the debris, catch it with either the plow or net and push it further into space, away from your station.

If using lasers though, just be careful not to end up like Peragus II

enter image description here enter image description here https://lparchive.org/Knights-of-the-Old-Republic-II/Update%206/

Perhaps using droids equipped with lasers to mine the debris would be a far safer alternative, reducing the risk to human lives.

enter image description here https://biobreak.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/kotor-2-peragus/

Then again, maybe its not such a good idea...

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Use your tried and true tractor beam.

You don’t need to acknowledge that you have one, just nod imperceptibly... We all know that you must have such weapons to bring in any smuggler ships that happen to fly by your station.

So just trap and collect all debris, and when it is in a manageable launch bay, you can collect the metal and recycle other materials in one of your garbage compactors; you have those too, don’t you? (just nod...)

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Its part of the defense grid

The death star is huge, it has a lot of mass that gives it some gravitic muscle.

But the death star moves, so the only reason it is maintained at all is because those huge generators and advanced gravity generators are doing their job. That is maintaining a near field anti-fighter, anti-missile, anti-torpedo, and ablative defense grid.

Of course the technology is still being perfected, its only the third death star and we really do not want surprise fighters, or another Millennium Falcon getting close again.

Small Debris, and Openings

The problem is of course the small debris that don't respond readily to gravitic intervention on account of being fast, and so mass free.

The other problem is opening a large enough hole in the defense grid to permit bombardment by the primary weapon, or a hyper-jump.

Negative Gravitic Pressure

The first measure would be to create a negative gravitic pressure. This would push mass away from the battle station that comes too close. This would encourage debris to orbit further away from our glorious weapons platform. This should handle the slower moving debris and keep the more massive objects in line.

As a perk it also acts as a counter measure to incoming spacecraft slowing them down to allow a weapons lock.

Lasers

Weapons lock is useful not just against fighters, but those medium to small objects that can be ablated by our turbo turrets.

This would create a lovely ionised plasma encircling the star adding to the woes of any approaching starcraft.

Magnets

With our advanced control of magnetic fields the newly ionised material can be maintained in a similar way to the mass based objects further out. As an extra benefit some (or all of it) can be conducted to polar collection stations to supply materials for our on board nano-lathes and micro-factories.

This could even be done intentionally when resources are low on board...

Shields, and Armour

While expensive, our Death Moon has had no expense spared (except for all of these manually aimed and fired cannons). So our deflector screens and shields are top of the range.

While not strictly necessary our Armour is heavily invested in too. Fortunately due to all of those evaporated planets many tonnes of dura-steel has been extracted and used to reinforce the armour on the station (at next to no cost). Which is being constantly repaired by heroically programmed repair droids (with a lack of self preservation reflex). Similarly built from the debris of earlier destroyed planets.

AI, and Control Software

The only thing we are missing is an automated tracking, control and response grid to maintain this debris shield. All of the accidents that have recently occurred were due to human error, and no wonder the infirmary is packed with strangled operators. They simply are not up to the challenge.

Our recommendation is to introduce automation and retrain all of those cannon controllers, array engineers, and various support personnel as Storm Troopers, or at least Fodder Troopers. Storm Troopers take a lot of training and need to be used strategically.

As an upshot any visiting dignitary that does not make it through the defense screen is either too stupid (human error), or a gleaming example of the effectiveness of the defense system. So keep a few human operators around to throttle as required.

Firing and Navigation

Of course aiming our primary weapon is a little more difficult with all of that debris in the way.

Fortunately our scientists developed the beam to go through several thousand kilometers of solid rock. They believe that the debris will only reduce the effectiveness of the weapon by about 0.5%.

As an interesting side effect our scientists believe that they can defocus the main gun to clear a large swath of nearby targets. Which will allow us to evaporate much of the nearby debris allowing a safe hyper-space jump.

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Simple: your Death Star does not suffer from Kessler syndrome

If you accept that Kessler syndrome applies to your universe, then your universe obeys mostly to law of physics of this universe, too. Which means in your universe space is very big and mostly empty, that planet are held together by a strong gravity, and they are orbiting a star.

So what? Well:

  • A planet doesn't explode by puffing smoke and some debris for a few kilometer: the power of the explosion will spread pieces of it at extreme speed all over the planetary system and beyond.
  • Practically all the material will explode in the direction the planet was orbiting (inertia). A civilization advanced enough to build a Death Star doesn't willingly put itself in the path of the explosion.
  • Such advanced civilization will destroy a planet with an angle such that the debris will follow a predetermined path anyway. Shooting the planet from slightly behind and outward from his orbit, a bit after the aphelion, so that the fragments will get a falling orbit toward the sun, if there are not inhabitated planet in the system to worry about. Or it will shoot standing between the star and the planet at either the perihelion or aphelion, depending on which direction is safer.
  • Anyway, space is big, so your Death star will be reached by just a bunch of debris. Even if they decide to stand right in their path.
  • Unless you decided to explode the planet by standing just in front of it at very close distance. In that case your ship will be reached by a lot of material travelling at extreme high speed, high enough to completely ignore the gravity pull of your tiny moon.
  • Or, in short: if you are in the path of lot of material, it will move too fast to care about you. If the material will be slow enough to get caught in your orbit, it will be a stone. Maybe two.
  • In any case, if you are putting yourself in the path of the explosion, it means you have enough shields to withstand being invested by all the stuff coming out of it. Just push the pedal to the metal and move away, and the two or three rocks will bounce away on your shields and get left behind.
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Oh, for heaven's sake! USE THE DARK SIDE!!!!

Channel your anger into a towering baseball bat of rage, and smash those offending bits of space junk away from the Death Star! And...while you're at it...y'know...you might just accidentally-like smash a particularly annoying bit of orbital gunk right at the Emperor's command tower. For as a Sith Lord you always:

  1. Remember the Rule of Two,
  2. Serve your master with slavish devotion, until
  3. You kill him and take his place!!!

:-)

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