Asteroid dust could be used to fight climate change on Earth

A group of scientists from Scotland have suggested a unique approach to fighting global warming here on earth. The scientists believe that the answer to global warming on Earth is a giant dust cloud blasted from an asteroid to act as a sunshade for Earth. According to the scientists, a project that reduced the amount of solar radiation the Earth receives by only 1.7% could offset the effects of the global increase in temperature of 3.6°F.

One of the researchers, named Russell Bewick from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland, says that a 1.7% reduction is very small would hardly be noticeable on earth. There are alternatives to using a giant cloud of dust blasted from an asteroid to shield the Earth. Another proposal would place giant mirrors in space, but this plan would be very expensive and require construction in outer space.

The scientists believe that the asteroid could gravitationally anchor a giant dust cloud in space to block sunlight and cool the earth. The scientist does specify that he doesn't recommend geoengineering in place of simply reducing carbon emissions on earth. The theory suggests that the asteroid and its massive dust cloud would be placed at Lagrange point L1, which is about four times the distance from the Earth to the moon.

The plan would then use something called a "mass driver" consisting of electromagnets to hurl asteroid-derived material away from the asteroid and out into space. The scientists say the mass driver could serve as a rocket to push the asteroid to its orbital point as well as the engine to blast the shielding cloud off the asteroid. The researchers have also picked a potential candidate in a near Earth asteroid called 1036 Ganymed. The cloud needed to shield the Earth from the solar radiation would have to measure about 11 million-billion pounds in mass in be about 1600 miles wide.

[via LiveScience]