American scientists want to use a peculiar object to fight climate change.
They have developed an innovative strategy that involves shielding the Earth from the sun’s rays using a spaceborne “umbrella” connected to a captured asteroid. This theoretical concept was proposed by István Szapudi, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii. Szapudi aims to mitigate climate change by reducing the amount of sunlight reaching our planet’s surface.
The Thinking That Led to the “Umbrella”
Szapudi’s idea revolves around constructing a large solar shield positioned at the L1 Lagrange point, located between the sun and the Earth. This hypothetical shield could block approximately 1.7 percent of solar radiation at L1, which would prevent a significant rise in Earth’s temperatures. By reducing solar radiation, Szapudi is hoping to offset the warming effects of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.
Problems and Possible Fixes
Implementing a feasible solar shade poses considerable engineering challenges. A solar shade would require immense size and durability to withstand constant solar radiation and gravitational forces from the sun and Earth.
To accomplish this, Szapudi proposes sourcing materials for the solar shield from space. Possible solar shield materials include asteroids and lunar dust. By using these materials as a counterweight, tethered to a smaller shield, the overall weight for lifting into orbit becomes more manageable.
Szapudi’s concept falls within the realm of solar geoengineering. Solar geoengineering is a contentious approach that aims to mitigate global warming by reducing the amount of sunlight reaching Earth’s surface. Other solar geoengineering proposals include injecting aerosols into the atmosphere or modifying clouds to reflect more sunlight back into space.
The study outlining this theoretical solar shield was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Szapudi’s study provides a thought-provoking idea for addressing the challenges of global warming. While the concept remains theoretical at this stage, future advancements in materials and space technologies may make this “umbrella” a viable solution in the years to come.
Image Source: Phys.org, https://shorturl.at/bEV19