The International Space Station is going to be outfitted with a giant laser

From the Death Star to Deep Space Nine, no self-respecting sci-fi space station has ever had to go without lasers. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the real world. Thankfully, that discrepancy is about to be rectified, as the International Space Station is due to be outfitted with a devilish-sounding laser of its own: CATS.

What’s a space station without a laser cannon? The International Space Station will be getting its very own laser at the end of 2014. And unlike the planet-smashing capabilities of the Death Star of Star Wars fame, this laser will to be enlisted for the purpose of science. It’s called CATS, and no, it isn’t the latest attempt to put feline astronauts in space. CATS stands for the Cloud Aerosol Transport System. The goal of CATS is to study the distribution of tiny particles of dust and air contaminants known as aerosols. Developed by research scientist Matt McGill at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt Maryland, CATS is slated to head to the International Space Station later this year on September 12th aboard SpaceX’s CRS-5 flight of the Dragon spacecraft. 

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