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Why scientists want to put a sunshade in orbit around Earth

Published Dec 23rd, 2023 9:01AM EST
thermostat against a sun backdrop
Image: Günter Albers/Adobe

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Scientists have come up with some crazy ideas over the years, all of which they hope will help reduce the rising temperatures seen around the globe to combat climate change. One idea that has been discussed for years is the idea of an orbiting sunshade between the sun and our planet. Now, though, these scientists are pushing even harder for it.

The Planetary Sunshade Foundation is exactly what you’d expect it to be, a group of scientists who continue to pursue the idea of building a sunshade in space between the Earth and the Sun. The idea is that the shade would allow us to reflect a large amount of space radiation back into space instead of letting the planet soak it up.

The hope is that by reducing the amount of space radiation reaching our planet, we’ll be able to lower the currently rising global temperatures. Many ideas have been discussed in the past, including the use of space bubbles to help mitigate the amount of radiation reaching Earth. However, none of these plans have ever been put into motion.

One thing that the Planetary Sunshade Foundation argues is the practicality of using an orbiting sunshade to help mitigate and manage solar radiation. The sunshade would, of course, be a megastructure, and it would need to be installed at the Sun-Earth Lagrange -1 point. This point is where the gravity from Earth and the Sun cancel each other out, and it would allow the sunshade to remain in place, without needing a lot of extra thrusters to keep it in the correct place.

The foundation says that previous solar sail technology has already shown that the construction of such a structure is already possible. Additionally, the foundation says that the rapid progress of recent space launch systems has resulted in the overall costs of sending the materials and workers into space being much lower than they used to be.

Whether or not an idea of this nature is actually pursued is another thing altogether. However, the Planetary Sunshade Foundation continues to push the idea of creating this orbiting sunshade between our planet and its star. Perhaps the various papers the scientists involved keep creating will gain traction, and we’ll see something happen soon.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.

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