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back to article ESA tests greenhouse gas-measuring lasers

Residents of the Canaries could be forgiven for thinking they were under attack from an alien race over the last two weeks, as the islands played host to a European Space Agency test of a laser tracking system for greenhouse gases. Infrared laser experiment for studying greenhouse gases Infrared laser experiment for studying …

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They're used to it

They've been using lasers from the observatories in the canaries for some time now,

such as from the Isaac Newton telescope there:

http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&gbv=2&biw=963&bih=1333&tbm=isch&tbnid=Y7HiBM7RsAT-YM:&imgrefurl=http://www.ing.iac.es/PR/press/ing42007.html&docid=CxcUhwxa7vz8NM&imgurl=http://www.ing.iac.es/PR/press/glas1.jpg&w=1000&h=878&ei=rfPVTpmHHIqYhQeL4JB9&zoom=1

The lasers are used to create an "artificial star" in the field of view of the telescope by fluorescing sodium atoms in the upper atmosphere (you need a bright star in the image to align the optics with).

Newer telescope plans have lots of laser stars (10-20) and beams, e.g. for the EELT (42m) telescope that ESO is building.

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Boffin

Northamptonshire

They've been doing this between water towers in Northamptonshire lately (10 miles or more per side of a triangle), although I don't think that it had anything to do with scientific or in-any-way useful matters.

An arts project I think, probably paid for out of my taxes :-(

or communicating with aliens

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Alien

"a laser tracking system for greenhouse gases"

Well, that's what they *say* it's for...!

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