Scientists are considering the idea of mining the moon for dust to stop global warming.
This idea would be based on firing all the collected dust to within a one-mile radius of Earth, with the aim being to block incoming sunlight and cool the planet.
Researchers from the University of Utah have been pondering over the idea, which would use what’s called an electromagnetic rail gun to shoot the mined lunar dust into space each year to sustain the shield.
If fired into space, they predict that the power of the Sun’s rays on Earth could be limited by up to 2%.
Ben Bromley, who led the research, said: “A really exciting part of our study was the realisation that the natural lunar dust grains are just the right size and composition for efficiently scattering sunlight away from Earth.
“Since it takes much less energy to launch these grains from the moon’s surface, as compared with an Earth launch, the ‘moonshot’ idea really stood out for us.”
The arduous task would be getting the equipment needed to the moon, he concedes – with a proposition of having a space station nearby to continually supply the dust during orbit.
He continued: “Nothing should distract us from reducing greenhouse gas emissions here on Earth. Our strategy may just be a moonshot but we should explore all possibilities, in case we need more time to do the work here at home.”
The cost and difficulty to maintain the project in space are the two key reasons experts believe it will prove hard to take off.
Frank Biermann, Sustainability Professor at Utrecht University, said the idea takes away from the true issue in hand.
“The idea to mine the moon or near-Earth asteroids in order to artificially block parts of the sunlight is no solution to the ongoing and intensifying climate crisis,” he said.
“What is needed are massive cutbacks in greenhouse gas emissions, which require rapid technological advancement and socioeconomic transitions. Mining the moon is not the answer that we need.”