MIT proposes using “space bubbles” to cool the Earth

Deepak Gupta July 2, 2022
Updated 2022/07/02 at 7:44 PM

While some scientists warn that geoengineering is a dangerous distraction from the real work needed to reduce emissions, others argue that all options need to be considered. That’s where the MIT team’s space bubbles come in.

MIT has proposed using “space bubbles” to cool the Earth. Find out what your ideas are.

A team of MIT researchers is investigating a method to combat the effects of climate changereveals a press release from press. They propose using "space bubbles" to reflect sunlight away from Earth.-

Safer form of solar geoengineering

The MIT team's method is a new form of solar geoengineering designed to reflect sunlight away from Earth in order to cool our planet and prevent the worst effects of climate change.

The most studied solar geoengineering technique involves the injection of reflective aerosol particles into the upper atmosphere. However, the potential negative impact of such a method is still not fully understood, meaning it is far from being seen as a viable option.

The MIT scientists' approach would be a little different. Instead of injecting particles into the atmosphere, your approach would reflect the sun's heat from spacewhich means that potentially harmful particles would not have to be injected into our atmosphere.

The researchers are studying the possibility of placing a shield made of "space bubbles" at the Lagrange 1 point, a relatively stable orbital point in space where the gravitational pull of Earth and the sun evaporates. The James Webb Space Telescope, for example, is positioned at Lagrange Point 1.

The biggest obstacle for this method is, without a doubt, in the logistics. MIT scientists believe the bubble shield would have to be approximately the size of Brazil. However, they believe the bubbles could be manufactured in space, reducing any launch costs. They are currently experimenting in the lab with "space bubbles" made of silicon.

In preliminary experiments, we were able to inflate a thin-film bubble to a pressure of 0.0028 atm, and keep it at about -50°C (to approximate space conditions of zero pressure and near zero temperature).

Investigators said in a press release.

Are space bubbles a lifesaver for humanity?

Crucially, the MIT researchers also wrote that their solar geoengineering solution would be "fully reversible," presumably meaning that bubbles could be quickly burst if they were to discover that they are having an undesirable effect on our planet.

This is very important, as we still don't fully understand the full complexity of climate change itself, let alone geoengineering methods.

Our understanding of climate change, which we are unwittingly causing right now, still has limitations, especially when it comes to more future impacts. Our understanding of what would happen if we intentionally manipulated the climate on a global scale is even less.

Linda Schneider, an international expert on climate policy, said in an interview.

Of course, more research is needed, despite the fact that "space bubbles" are, on paper, a safer form of solar geoengineering. However, if the worst effects of climate change become a reality, as they likely will, this proposal could serve as a lifesaver for humanity.

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