Could Space Dust Help Protect the Earth from Climate Change?


On a cold winter day, the warmth of the Sun is welcome.

On a cold winter day, the warmth of the Sun is welcome. Yet as humanity emits more greenhouse gases, the Earth's atmosphere traps more and more of the Sun's energy, which steadily increases the Earth's temperature. One strategy for reversing this trend is to intercept a fraction of sunlight before it reaches our planet.

For decades, scientists have considered using screens or other objects to block just enough of the Sun’s radiation — between 1 or 2 percent — to mitigate the effects of global warming. Now, a new study led by scientists at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian and the University of Utah explores the potential of using dust to shield sunlight.

The paper, published today in the journal PLOS Climate, describes different properties of dust particles, quantities of dust and the orbits that would be best suited for shading Earth. The team found that launching dust from Earth to a way station at the "Lagrange Point" between Earth and the Sun would be most effective but would require an astronomical cost and effort.

Read more at: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Photo Credit: Ben Bromley/University of Utah