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"I am not a speed reader. I am a speed understander."
- Isaac Asimov

Spotlight of Heat (Orbital Microwaves)  
  Using an orbiting satellite microwave array to heat a specific portion of a planetary surface.  

In the novel, sf fans must rescue astronauts fallen to Earth in a Green movement dystopia. How can they move across the great glacial ice sheet without proper equipment? The temperature dips to thirty below zero Fahrenheit on the glacier. They decide to call upon an orbiting power station.

"Big Momma, it's cold here. We're going to freeze, all of us. We need heat. Can you give us a microwave spotlight? Have SUNSAT lock one of its projectors onto our transponder frequency and track us across the ice."

"Skazhiyte. One moment." Alex waited while Big Momma conferred - probably with the Peace Station chief and the SUNSAT engineer. Sherrine asked him what he was doing and he told her...

"Is that possible?" she asked. "To beam enough microwave energy down to keep us from freezing? ...It won't be too much, will it?"

Alex grinned. "I'll have them set it for thaw, not bake. Seriously, the beam density is only twenty-three milliwatts per square centimeter at the center of the rectenna farm. I figure if we keep it to a couple of milliwatts, it will take the edge off the cold without cooking us. We'll have to take off whatever rings or jewelry we're wearing, wrap them in cloth, maybe pack them in snow...

From Fallen Angels, by Larry Niven w/Pournelle, Flynn.
Published by Baen Books in 1991
Additional resources -

A bit later, they are joined by a small Inuit band, whose leader comments favorably on the "magical heat" that follows them around.

Two hours later, they stopped again to shed clothes. The heat, mild as it was, was working its way through their bodies. Sherrine tried to balance the heat and the clothing against the windchill and found, much to her surprise, that she was dressed for a walk on a brisk spring day.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Fallen Angels
  More Ideas and Technology by Larry Niven w/Pournelle, Flynn
  Tech news articles related to Fallen Angels
  Tech news articles related to works by Larry Niven w/Pournelle, Flynn

Spotlight of Heat (Orbital Microwaves)-related news articles:
  - Space Mirrors Could Create Mars Pocket-Eden
  - China Melts Tibetan Permafrost To Plant Forest

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