MIT Researchers Propose Using “Space Bubbles” to Curb Global Warming

published Jun 24, 2022
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Electric vehicles and solar panels are a few well-known ways scientists and entrepreneurs are trying to curb the progression of global warming. But a group of MIT researchers just came up with an idea that’s totally outside the box — yet still within our orbit.

The group came up with the idea of floating “space bubbles” that would float above the Earth and reflect the sun’s rays. These bubbles would be strung together in a raft-like formation about the size of Brazil and floated at the L1 Lagrangian Point (the point between the Earth and the sun where their gravitational pulls cancel out), acting like a solar shield.

Unlike other solar shield ideas that have been floated, the Space Bubbles plan would not interfere with the Earth’s biosphere, but rather, be built and located in space and block just enough radiation to reduce the effects of global warming. And this plan would only mitigate the global warming issue, not stop it completely.

Architect Carlo Ratti, the head of MIT’s Senseable City Lab, told Dezeen, “Geoengineering might be our final and only option. Yet, most geoengineering proposals are earth-bound, which poses tremendous risks to our living ecosystem. Space-based solutions would be safer — for instance, if we deflect 1.8 percent of incident solar radiation before it hits our planet, we could fully reverse today’s global warming.”

The Space Bubbles, which MIT researchers say could be made from a material like silicon, could also be deflated and replaced or removed from their position at any time. 

This project is still in its hypothesis phase, but the team believes they can secure funding and support for a feasibility study to explore materials, shipping methods from Earth to space, and positioning and stabilization of the Space Bubbles when they are rafted, among other important factors.

And the MIT researchers make it clear that work on Earth must be done to completely change the course of global warming, as the Space Bubbles project would act as a last-ditch effort. But space bubbles could be what ultimately saves planet Earth if we can’t get our act together.