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Starfire Optical Range -- a death ray for science's sake

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We're rather impressed with the US Air Force and their Starfire project. It's not every day you get to build a death ray on a desert hill in New Mexico and write it off as a scientific endeavor. The premise is that since the atmosphere diffracts light, messing up the view of ground-based optical telescopes, the Starfire shoots a laser 56 miles into the mesosphere and measures the distortion to adjust the telescope optics. Images from the Starfire are 40 times more accurate than regular, but the laser technology is coincidentally multi-purpose: "We don't hide the fact that it could help build an anti-satellite weapon," says the installation's chief, "if you choose to do it." Our thoughts exactly.

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