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Could Moon dust block global warming?

Feb. 09, 2023.
1 min. read 2 Interactions

Scientists suggest a practical way to reduce global warming: Shoot lunar dust from the surface of the Moon towards the Sun to partially block sunlight from reaching Earth.

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Amara Angelica

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Senior Editor Amara Angelica, an electrical engineer and inventor, was previously Editor of Kurzweil AI, working with Ray Kurzweil on The Singularity Is Near and other works.

Shooting lunar dust from the surface of the moon towards the sun could partially block sunlight from reaching Earth, say scientists

In a paper just published in the open-access journal PLOS Climate One, scientists at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian and the University of Utah suggest a radical way to deal with global warming. In computer simulations, they found that when launched precisely, Moon dust would follow a path between Earth and the Sun, effectively creating shade, at least for a while.

The Earth’s atmosphere traps more and more of the Sun’s energy, which steadily increases the Earth’s temperature. This new strategy could reverse this trend by intercepting a fraction of sunlight before it reaches our planet.

A cool moonshot

The paper describes the different properties of dust particles, quantities of dust, and the orbits that would be best suited for shading Earth. The results were welcome news, the team says, because much less energy is needed to launch dust from the Moon than from Earth. This is important because the amount of dust required for a solar shield is large, comparable to the output of a big mining operation here on Earth. 

But wait: What if it blocks enough sunlight to create a permanently cold, uninhabitable planet? Not to worry, advise the scientists. The Sun’s radiation naturally disperses the dust particles throughout the solar system, meaning the sunshield is temporary and particles do not fall onto Earth. 

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