Is NASA developing a Tractor Beam?

Animation shows concept of laser-based system, but we can't capture the Millennium Falcon just yet

In another life-imitates-art moment, NASA has posted an animation video showing what a possible tractor beam could look like. On its YouTube page, NASA explains that the concept of tractor beams, in which you can trap and move objects using laser light, is still science fiction, but that NASA scientists have won funding to study the concept for "remotely capturing planetary or atmospheric particles and delivering them to a robotic rover or orbiting spacecraft for analysis." A soundless animation (no narration) shows some of the concepts about how a future spacecraft could capture this data.

A couple of things here - first, it doesn't look like the technology would be able to do things like change the trajectory of an asteroid hurtling towards Earth, or capture the Millennium Falcon. Second, this animation needs a funnier soundtrack, so let's get going, Internet.

Also, in case you forgot what a Tractor Beam was, here's this silly video:

Read more of Keith Shaw's ITworld.TV blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Keith on Twitter at @shawkeith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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