Scientists Envision a Massive Space Umbrella

Idea is to protect us from the sun's solar radiation
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2024 10:40 AM CST
Novel Idea to Cool Planet: Giant Space Umbrella
Kind of like this, but much, much bigger.   (Getty/jordi magrans)

Sometimes, proposals to keep the Earth cool are too complicated for non-scientists to understand. And sometimes, they're like this one: "the equivalent of a giant beach umbrella, floating in outer space." That's from the New York Times in its coverage of a proposal being floated by physics professor Yoram Rozen of the Asher Space Research Institute at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Rozen and his team suggest we build a giant shield between sun and Earth to deflect between 1% and 2% of the sun's radiation, per a post at Medium.

The logistics of such an endeavor would be staggering, as would the price. Rosen is seeking $10 million to $20 million to build a prototype of about 100 square feet. To work as envisioned, the actual shield would need to be roughly the size of Argentina, per the Times. And nothing of that size could be launched from Earth, meaning it would have to be built in space from smaller shades. The idea may sound far-fetched, but the Times notes that some version of a space umbrella has been in play for years, and it's gaining traction as the planet's temperature rises.

Last year, for example, reported on a similar plan that called for a sun shield to be tethered to an existing asteroid. "In Hawaii, many use an umbrella to block the sunlight as they walk about during the day," said astronomer Istvan Szapudi of the University of Hawaii in regard to that plan, which was detailed in the journal PNAS. "I was thinking, could we do the same for Earth and thereby mitigate the impending catastrophe of climate change?" Such shields aren't seen as perfect solutions, but more as a piece of the puzzle toward one. (More climate change stories.)

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