May 20, 2024

Space Dust Shield: A Bold Solution to Combat Climate Change?

They evaluated various residential or commercial properties of dust particles, amounts of dust, and the orbits that would be finest suited for shading Earth. The authors discovered that introducing dust from Earth to a method station at the “Lagrange Point” in between Earth and the sun (L1) would be most effective but would require huge expense and effort. Simulated stream of dust introduced between Earth and the sun. The authors discovered that when launched exactly, the dust would follow a path in between Earth and the sun, successfully developing shade, at least for a while. Eventually, the suns radiation distributes the dust particles throughout the solar system; the sun guard is short-term and guard particles do not fall onto Earth.

” That was the seed of the concept; if we took a percentage of material and put it on a special orbit between the Earth and the sun and broke it up, we could obstruct out a great deal of sunlight with a little quantity of mass,” said Ben Bromley, professor of physics and astronomy and lead author of the research study.
A simulation from dust launched from the method station at Lagrange point 1. The shadow cast in the world is exaggerated for clearness. Credit: Ben Bromley
” It is fantastic to consider how moon dust– which took over 4 billion years to produce– may help slow the increase in Earths temperature, an issue that took us less than 300 years to produce,” said Scott Kenyon, co-author of the study from the Center for Astrophysics|Harvard & & Smithsonian.
The paper was published recently in the journal PLOS Climate.
Casting a shadow
A shields total efficiency depends on its ability to sustain an orbit that casts a shadow in the world. Sameer Khan, undergraduate student and the studys co-author, led the initial exploration into which orbits could hold dust in position long enough to offer sufficient shading. Khans work showed the difficulty of keeping dust where you need it to be.
” Because we understand the positions and masses of the significant celestial bodies in our solar system, we can merely use the laws of gravity to track the position of a simulated sunshield in time for numerous various orbits,” said Khan.
2 situations were promising. In the very first scenario, the authors placed a space platform at the L1 Lagrange point, the closest point in between Earth and the sun where the gravitational forces are balanced. Things at Lagrange points tend to remain along a path in between the 2 celestial bodies, which is why the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) lies at L2, a Lagrange point on the opposite side of the Earth.
A simulation of dust introduced from the moons surface area as seen from Earth. Credit: Ben Bromley
The authors found that when released precisely, the dust would follow a course between Earth and the sun, successfully producing shade, at least for a while. Any L1 platform would require to create an unlimited supply of new dust batches to blast into orbit every few days after the initial spray dissipates.
” It was rather challenging to get the shield to stay at L1 long enough to cast a significant shadow. This shouldnt come as a surprise, however, given that L1 is an unstable balance point. Even the slightest discrepancy in the sunshields orbit can cause it to rapidly drift out of location, so our simulations needed to be exceptionally exact,” Khan stated.
In the second circumstance, the authors shot lunar dust from the surface of the moon towards the sun. They discovered that the intrinsic properties of lunar dust were perfect to efficiently work as a sun shield. The simulations evaluated how lunar dust spread along various courses till they discovered outstanding trajectories aimed toward L1 that functioned as an effective sun shield. These outcomes are welcome news, because much less energy is needed to introduce dust from the moon than from Earth. This is very important because the quantity of dust in a solar guard is large, comparable to the output of a huge mining operation here in the world. The discovery of the brand-new sun-shielding trajectories suggests providing the lunar dust to a different platform at L1 may not be essential.
Just a moonshot?
The authors stress that this research study only explores the potential impact of this method, instead of assess whether these circumstances are logistically practical.
” We arent professionals in climate change, or the rocket science needed to move mass from one location to the other. Were simply exploring different type of dust on a variety of orbits to see how reliable this approach might be. We do not want to miss out on a video game changer for such an important issue,” stated Bromley.
Among the most significant logistical challenges– replenishing dust streams every few days– likewise has an advantage. Ultimately, the suns radiation distributes the dust particles throughout the solar system; the sun shield is short-term and shield particles do not fall onto Earth. The authors assure that their method would not develop a permanently cold, uninhabitable world, as in the sci-fi story, “Snowpiercer.”.
” Our strategy could be a choice in dealing with climate change,” said Bromley, “if what we require is more time.”.
Reference: “Dust as a solar guard” by Benjamin C. Bromley, Sameer H. Khan and Scott J. Kenyon, 8 February 2023, PLOS Climate.DOI: 10.1371/ journal.pclm.0000133.

A dusty lunar landscape, as envisioned by NASAs Advanced Concepts Laboratory. Credit: NASA
As mankind releases more and more greenhouse gases, the Earth satmosphere traps more and more of the suns energy and steadily increases the Earths temperature level. For decades, researchers have considered utilizing screens, things, or dust particles to obstruct just enough of the suns radiation– between 1 or 2%– to alleviate the results of global warming.
They analyzed various residential or commercial properties of dust particles, quantities of dust, and the orbits that would be finest matched for shading Earth. The authors discovered that launching dust from Earth to a method station at the “Lagrange Point” between Earth and the sun (L1) would be most efficient however would require huge expense and effort.
Simulated stream of dust released between Earth and the sun. This dust cloud is revealed as it crosses the disk of the sun, seen from Earth. Streams like this one, including those released from the moons surface, can function as a short-lived sunshade. Credit: Ben Bromley/University of Utah
World development is a messy procedure that kicks up lots of astronomical dust that can form rings around the host star. These rings intercept light from the main star and re-radiate it in a method that we can identify it on Earth.