Thursday, September 4, 2008

Space Sunshield

Out of the entire Project Earth series, this idea seems to be the most expensive and hardest to accomplish. Currently, I do not know how they plan to engineer the space sunshield it self or how they expect it to get into space but the sunshield seems unfeasible before seeing their ideas.

All knowledge of costs and time to implement aside, the Space Sunshield idea is to setup a network of mirrors in space to reflect some of the Sun's light from shining on Earth warming it further. If they can get their plan in motion, they expect that these mirrors will be able to reflect the sun rays and slow down global warming.

This idea is very similar to the Brighter World episode. The main similarity is reflecting the Sun's light away from Earth. The difference is sending mirrors up into space.

You can catch Project Earth, Space Sunshield on the Discovery Channel on September 12th at 9PM EST.


Updates from the episode:

Apparently, I was thinking too much on spending money on space agencies on launching these lenses, I wasn't thinking of smaller private individuals who use small rockets.

If only 2 percent of the sun's rays are redirected, this would be able to bring global temperatures back down to preindustrial eras.

The original lens was two inches thick and about one foot in diameter. The engineer's idea calls for 16 trillion lenses to be launched. Aside from the costs of labor and production, the cost to launch these lenses would cost one million trillion dollars to launch. Enough to bankrupt the world for a very long time.

The Discovery Project Earth team was able to scale the lenses down to make them 1 micron thick instead of his current two inch think lenses. They were successful in shrinking the lenses on a sheet of silicon.

In order to get the sun refracting lenses into space, the team first tried to use a coil gun. They proved that the coil gun can work but they hope that using traditional, proven rocket technology will be able to control variables better than a system that launches at over 1,000 g force.

Rocket technology on the other hand only causes about 25g. The only problem with using rockets for a launch is that the force of 25g's are in all directions because of the rumbling of the rockets.

Unfortunately for the team, the rocket crashed. Everything was destroyed, they were not even able to retrieve pictures or film from inside the rocket monitoring the lenses. The entire experiment was a large failure. The Project Earth team can now only speculate "IF" their experiments worked.

Based on vague, hypothetical ideas, they came to the conclusion that the sunshield would be able to actually reverse global warming but only if our carbon dioxide levels are reduced.

14 comments:

Richard said...

The 16 trillion lenses could work? To find out will cost too much. A better solution is to get the same effect at a lower cost.
The solution is from Lawrence Welk----a1, a2, a3.
"Blow bubbles". Launch a bubble maker satellite(s) to the right position. The bubbles should refract the light from the sun provided you make enough. This may sound simplistic but it will work.

David Larson said...

Ok...the failure was in the lousy lens design. For a better lens design all you need to do it watch the next episode on solar power generation in space.

It's strange that this obvious connection is never mentioned.

Derek said...

In my opinion, Roger Angel has tunnel vision. He only sees the use of lens cause that is what he specializes in. Why not use opaque 23" things rather than lens. The light would naturally refract around them anyways. I'm sure the number of opaque things would reduce substantially and make it more economically feasible.

sameer said...

I really appreciate the idea of putting lenses up there, but i would like to make just one suggestion-couldn't opaque screens be used instead of lenses?
this may sound mad but it has three main advantages:opaque screens would deviate more light thereby reducing the number of screens and thereby the payload and overall cost. also,
if the condition for transparency is neglected, we can concentrate more on tensile strength and other features of the screen.

hazim jalil said...

i wonder if we can use different approach, instead of using lenses we can use reflective spheres, in this case we don't need to worry about the alignment with the sun, we need only to use light, strong, and reflective material.
and more over for packaging or sending these spheres out to space, we can use also a spherical container to hold several reflective objects inside, but usually we use a rocket to be used in such mission, but in "sphere rocket" we don't need to have only a strait coil gun path or tube, but we can make the tube longer by using different shapes, one of these shapes we might use is "Quarter-Circle", its a crazy idea but imagine we can use longer lunching tube for the coil gun on the ground.

Linae said...

The lenses need to be in a chamber of distilled water, with NO AIR AT ALL, to resist any stress.

Linae said...

the lense has to be in a chamber of distilled water with absolutely NO AIR, to resist any stress!

Linae said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric said...

this method will cost trillions of $. and even if u place that sunshield in space it will be of no use unless the carbon emissions are minimized on earth.

Derrick said...

Considering a vast amount of the money is going towards just launching these things into space trying to get them there unharmed looks almost impossible. On the other hand with the proper equipment most of these ideas would be quite easy to mass produce. On the downside most of them are made out of very fragile material and can be broken with very little force. So if you sent the bulk of the material up into space and had it assembled using mainly automated machinery with possibly one to two people operating it.
It could be deployed right there in space. One of the best possibilities would be to send it up on the space shuttle and have them do tests with such technology first and see if it even makes a reasonable difference. Though with the upcoming retirement of the space shuttle we might even want to consider waiting for the possible development of better rocket technology.
In addition to how to get it there here is my take on the technology that would work. I think if you build a large thin roll out paper like material you could either make that material opaque and block a small percentage of the light or make the material so it is slightly permeable to light and bend it slightly like a " ( " kinda of like if you bent a piece of paper along one axis and it would bend the light to dim it out. Even though trillions of lenses would get the job done I don't think it will work economically but I do believe there is a solution out there that wont cost millions of billions of dollars.

Eric said...

this is not the solution. it will bankrupt d world economy without providing satisfactory results.

Abhishek said...

From Discovery Channels "Project earth" I came to know the possible development on sun shield for cutting the sunlight up to 2%. But it really upset me to know the failure of payload test.Its quite obvious that millimeter scaled glass cannot tolerate that much sound or vibration generated by G-forces.
Now if we use a vessel filled with high density fluid to intact the lenses in it,then we can protect the lenses from sound waves & vibration. I think this is the better possible way to use as payload to space.The liquid will nullify the vibration by absorption of shock waves.The lenses would be in more safer jacket.In space the vessel would be opened to eject the lenses.

Simon said...

Why not use an altitude balloon to carry these lenses into space?

The guy who broke the sound barrier in free fall got into space this way.

No G-force, No vibration and minimal
fuel.

Obviously a tether would have to be
jettisoned from the balloon the rest of the way into outer space (obviously requiring little force) then retrieved by whoever is knocking about in the area at the time.

Lets have it right, when have we got no one in space? It's all about logistics and this is really cost effective and thousands of these lenses could be deployed in one journey.

Simon said...

Why not use an altitude balloon to carry these lenses into space?

The guy who broke the sound barrier in free fall got into space this way.

No G-force, No vibration and minimal
fuel.

Obviously a tether would have to be
jettisoned from the balloon the rest of the way into outer space ( requiring little force) then retrieved by whoever is knocking about in the area at the time.

Lets have it right, when have we got no one in space? It's all about logistics and this is really cost effective and thousands of these lenses could be deployed in one journey.