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If you released a large amount of small but precise particles (the size of glitter or confetti) is space, between a group of cube sats. Could you track the particles with cameras and/or lasers? And could you move the particles using lasers or light reflected at the particle to push them in different directions?

I am interested in knowing if you could track a cloud of small particles to measure the effect of gravity, solar winds, and magnetic fields on them in space, but also push the particles back into position with lasers or reflected light.

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  • $\begingroup$ The anonymous and poorly-informed "primarily opinion based" close voter has struck again! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 9 at 5:17
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NASA JPL optical design team, including Scott Basinger and Mayer Rud and co-investigator Grover Swartzlander at the Rochester Institute of Technology Center for Imaging Science think so! They call them "orbital rainbows" when used as distributed mirrors for a giant telescope.

The whole concept is described here Orbiting Rainbows: Optical Manipulation of Aerosols and the beginnings of Future Space Construction:

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which I found linked in the NASA.gov page Orbiting Rainbows along with the image below:

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From JPL's Orbiting Rainbows Simulation

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  • $\begingroup$ The report is over 100 pages long and so I'm not sure which section to quote. If you have any specific areas you'd like addressed in more detail please note them here and I'll give it a try. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 9 at 5:16

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