Space Sunshade Idea Now Worrisomely Popular
In the past year, I've covered two different proposals on using space technology to create some sort of "shade" for the entire planet that would save us from global warming. In covering those stories, words like "radical" and even "outlandish" seemed appropriate.
Now, NASA has actually funded a more thorough study of a third "sunshade" proposal. Should I be worried that the government is actually thinking they need some sort of space-based fallback plan for the global warming problem?
If you'd like to see the past proposals, take a look at the single giant concave fresnel lens at L1 solution and the space ring girdles the Earth solution.
The new (third!) sunshade solution is proposed by University of Arizona Steward Observatory optics expert Roger Angel. He suggests that we launch trillions of tiny (0.6 meters across) screens. The screens would be thin transparent disks with little 0.1 meter protruding fins with solar energy-gathering capabilities for position adjustment. The disks would essentially be lenses that would take a small amount of the sun's light (energy) and focus it away from Earth.
(Roger Angel suggests L1 sunshade)
They would be sent to the inner Lagrange point L1, the point (or relatively small area) between the sun and the Earth where the orbital period of any object becomes exactly equal to the Earth's orbital period (read a bit more about L1 here). In other words, all of the trillions of tiny "lenses" could stay there forever without expending extra energy, shielding the Earth from about 1.8% of the sun's radiation, according to Dr. Angel.
According to Dr. Angel's paper, just published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, there would have to be a cloud of lenses about 100,000 kilometers long. To accomplish this, we would need to launch an 800,000 unit stack of these every five minutes for ten years. Angel suggests that this could be done with electromagnetic rail launchers powered (preferably) by some sort of renewable power source like hydroelectric or wind.
As Dr. Angel puts it "...if there's nothing you can do except shade the planet, you may want to think about it."
Now that we are getting more comfortable with large-scale space construction projects, take a look at the giant fresnel lens and the space ring. Also, read more about Dr. Angel's solution in A Sunshade for Planet Earth and Space Sunshade Might Be Feasible in Global Warming Emergency.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/4/2006)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 11 )
Related News Stories -
Elon Musk Tweets Versions Of Clarke's Operation Cleanup
'Fortunately, the old orbital forts were superbly equipped for this task.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1978.
Espresso Telescope Searches For Exoplanets
'These instruments were the wonderful ones our astronomers had perfected.' - Edmond Hamilton, 1936.
Manned Maneuvering Unit From 1984
'The glittering little rocket bolted to the black iron behind him.' - Jack Williamson, 1933.
Astronaut Gets Younger In Space
'So what we're looking for now is not an antibiotic - an anti-life drug - but an anti-agathic, an anti-death drug...' - James Blish, 1957.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Swarm Of Mindless Robots Works Together
'Very tiny pseudo insects that... can unite to form a superordinate system.'
SpotMini Robot Dog, Autonomous And On Sale In 2019
Great, an autonomous slamhound. It is cute, though.
RoboFly Is Laser-Powered, Adorable
Don't swat this fly!
MSG Sphere Las Vegas, ala Star Wars
'The smoky globe, hung in the vault, was shot with colored light...'
Tetraplegics Dominate Avatar Races
Well, just speaking brain-to-computer...
MIT Ampli Blocks Build Biomedical Devices
Damn it Spock, I'm a doctor not an engineer!
UberAIR Asks For Skytaxi Landing Prototypes
You know you want to ride in one.
Boring Tunnel Almost Ready
Your underground future is calling!
Handheld Human Skin Printer
It outputs a thin wad of uniflesh.
Healthy Fast Food Courtesy Of Robot Chefs
'The electric cook was stirring empty nothing in a pan, with a zeal worthy a dozen eggs.'
Mass Production Of In Vitro Meat From One Sample
They're Assimilating Our Culture, That's What They're Doing
Amazing 'Hybrid' Solar-Powered Sea Slug Does Photosynthesis
Thank goodness for Star Trek.
Retinal Prosthesis Uses Organic Printing Inks
We can rebuild you - well, your eyes, maybe.
Should You Submit Your DNA To A Database?
Consumer DNA services are often inaccurate.
Squid-Like Robots Soon To Be 3D Printable
'It was a chemotactic artificial jellyfish designed to slither...'
Humans Evolve Deep Diving Abilities
Sounds like '60s sci-fi to me.
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories