A screen of space bubbles to combat global warming

A screen of space bubbles called “Space Bubbles”.

Here’s a screen of space bubbles inspired directly from an idea by astronomer James Angell, a professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona in the US. This is probably the last climate solution of opportunity.

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For several years now, the effects of global warming have started to become more concrete. We face far more extreme climate events than ever before: persistent droughts, extreme heat waves, more violent storms and more devastating tornadoes have moved from exceptional event status to normal occurrences.

Despite the incredible efforts of many national and international organizations and the involvement of many governments around the world, it is clear that we are struggling to limit global warming below +2 degrees Celsius.

Many people, including scientists, are beginning to think that humanity has not reached a point where all efforts seem futile. One can only hope that this is not the case.

It is with this vision of the ultimate solution that engineers at MIT in the US, specializing in geo-engineering, are currently working on a crazy project that could potentially limit the impact of CO emissions.2 or even their opposite. Called the “Space Bubble,” the project creates a disk the size of a country the size of Brazil and places it 300,000 kilometers from Earth at an area called Lagrange Point L.1!

Other failed shield projects

In 1989, a thin glass shield project was too expensive and too complicated

The structure will be located in an area of ​​space called the Lagrange Point L, 323,010 km from Earth.1 The definition of a Lagrange point is mathematically quite complicated, but can be more simply summarized by considering a body orbiting another in space. During this movement, there is a point of equilibrium where the universal attraction of one body is unbalanced with the other. These well-defined places around the Earth are the Lagrange points, named in memory of the French astronomer Joseph-Louis Lagrange (1736–1813). When astronomers send a satellite into orbit at the Lagrange L point1For example, its position relative to the Sun and Earth is fixed.

In the past, several attempts have emerged, without results. One of them provided for the manufacture and installation of a thin glass shield presented in 1989. It will be built from raw materials taken from the moon. Theoretically, such a system would reduce incident light by 1.8%. That would be enough to prevent global warming. However, the amount of materials required for its construction quickly made the project unfeasible.

Another project that started in 2006 was to build a whole set of small solar shields. How? Uses electromagnetic acceleration to escape Earth’s gravity. but with an ion propulsion for transport to the Lagrange point. Unfortunately, this “swarm” construction of shields was very difficult to implement.

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A solar shield whose bubble will inflate into space

MIT engineers came up with the idea of ​​”inflating” this screen with space bubbles. And straight into space! This is to facilitate handling and reduce transportation costs.

However, the most suitable material for such a structure remains to be determined. Space is an inhospitable place subject to extreme conditions. such as the solar wind and cosmic rays. Not to mention the risk of collision with all kinds of objects. Researchers are already working in their laboratories to develop the material. The latter must reflect part of the solar radiation that reaches Earth and resist extraterrestrial conditions. Silicon-based molten alloys and graphene-enhanced ionic liquids seem to be the candidates they pin their hopes on.

Engineers think they can make a solar shield 20 nanometers thick. and therefore, correspond to solar wavelengths between 400 and 600 nanometers.

There are still many questions that researchers need answered. For example, they have to think about the maintenance of such a shield, because it will be fragile. It is also necessary to predict the short- and long-term effects of reduced solar irradiance, even weaker, for life in general on planet Earth. A period of adaptation will definitely be required.

Finally, at the end of its life, it is necessary to be able to easily destroy this giant shield to limit the amount of debris to replace it with another one, as it will take between 50 and 200 years to slow or reverse it. Effects of Global Warming.

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Carlo Ratti, Charles Primerman, Daniela Russ, Gareth McKinley, Marcus Bueller. “Space Bubbles: Deflection of Solar Radiation Using Thin-Film Inflatable Bubble Rafts”. MIT, https://senseable.mit.edu/space-bubbles/

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