An illustration showing the plan of the space bubbles in place. Image Credit: MIT.

MIT Wants to Build a Space “Raft” the Size of Brazil to Fight Climate Change

A group of scientists from MIT has devised a dystopian plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: build a space "raft" the size of Brazil, equip it with "space bubbles" and try to block off or reflect a fraction of sunlight.

In an effort to prevent a climate disaster, MIT engineers have devised a dystopian plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Increasing global temperatures compel us to ask: has our negative impact gone too far? Is it too late for us to reverse the damage done?

MIT’s transdisciplinary team is currently developing an approach that complements current climate adaptation and mitigation solutions: Space Bubbles.

Space Bubbles and a Space “raft” the size of Brazil

As a result of an idea initially proposed by Robert Angel, it involves deploying a space raft that consists of small inflatable bubbles aimed to shield the Earth from a small amount of solar radiation.

The project belongs to a set of solar geoengineering technologies that reduce climate change by reflecting a fraction of sunlight.

This method poses less risk of disrupting our fragile ecosystems than other geoengineering methods, such as dissolving gases in the stratosphere to increase their albedo effect.

This raft, which is estimated to be about the size of Brazil, would be suspended in space around the Lagrangian Point L1, a place between Earth and the Sun where their gravitational attraction cancels each other out.

Several questions are addressed in this proposal. For example, what is the most suitable material for bubbles to endure space conditions?

How can these bubbles be made and deployed in space? What is the most effective way to make the shield fully reversible? Are there any long-term effects on the ecosystem of the Earth?

As part of MIT’s interdisciplinary research program, the team also wants to foster discussion about the challenges presented by solar geoengineering.

“We believe that advancing solar shield feasibility studies to the next level could help us make more informed decisions in the coming years should geoengineering approaches become urgent,” said Professor Carlo Ratti of the MIT Senseable City Lab.

“The project should not be seen as a replacement for current adaptation and mitigation efforts, but as a backup solution in case things get out of hand,” he clarified.

In preliminary experiments, thin-film bubbles can be inflated at temperatures of -50 degrees Celsius (-58 degrees Fahrenheit) to a pressure of about three-thousandths of an atmosphere. According to MIT, it may even be possible to manufacture the bubbles directly in outer space, which would facilitate the creation of an extensive deflective raft between the Earth and the Sun.

However, we need to do much more work before even considering implementing the plan.

MIT and their fight against climate change

MIT has previously presented different ideas on how humankind could fight off climate change.

One of the previously proposed ideas involved spraying the sky with reflective particles to allow our planet to cool down.

Scientists suggest spraying fine mixtures of sulfur dioxide, alumina, or calcium carbonate to cool down our planet into its stratosphere.

In order to determine if their plan works, researchers would use sensors to measure particles’ reflectivity, dispersal, and interaction with chemicals in the atmosphere.

Read more here about the project here.


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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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