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 -
NASA Misses $5Trillion Funding Boost
'This must be a golden planet—this little asteroid.' - Garrett P. Serviss, 1898.
LightSail Solar Sail Deploys
'This was the first time any solar yacht had ever attained it...'- Arthur C. Clarke, 1964.
Suit Up! Fifty Years Of Spacewalks Video
'I experienced for a few minutes the delicious, indescribable pleasure of being a little planet...'- Garrett P. Serviss, 1898.
Microbes To Terraform Mars?
'Terraform the little rock...'- Jack Williamson, 1941.
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.
Hackers Can Take Control Of Cars From Anywhere In The World
'The car faltered as the external command came to brake...'
Armed Drone Opens Fire
'Each a television eye and a sonic stunner...'
Robotic Exoskeleton Releases Man From Wheelchair
'This man was standing on two corrugated-soled titanium footplates...'
Oh, Just Let Robots Run Airports
I'd like a friendly robot to help me at airports.
How Smart Should AI's Be Allowed To Get?
'Every AI ever built has an electromagnetic shotgun wired to its forehead'
NASA Misses $5Trillion Funding Boost
'This must be a golden planet—this little asteroid.'
Kuwait Creates Mandatory DNA Database For Citizens
And who has the largest DNA database on its citizens?
Please, Please Let There Be Regenerated Teeth
Google AI 'Deep Dreams' Kubrick's 2001
'I was only trying to do what I thought best....'
The BLITAB: First Tactile Tablet for Blind People
Absolutely amazing development - now blind people can read the web!
Why, Oh Why, Must We Develop Robots That Run Faster Than I Do?
'The legs are long, curled way up to deliver power, like a cheetah's.'
Golf Robot Putts Out
'The robot solemnly hit a ball against the wall, picked it up and teed it, hit it again, over and again...'
Computer Finds Cancer Doctors Miss
The computer will see you now.
Would Robot Taxis Ease Carbon Emissions?
'He emerged and flagged down a robot taxi...'
Brainwaves As Biometric Identification
'The doors of Mr. Lars, Incorporated, shut, tuned as they were to his own cephalic pattern.'
What-If Machine Concocts Creative Premises
'Books were just a commodity that had to be produced, like jam or bootlaces.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories