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Heliotropic dust rings for Earth climate engineering

Bewick, Russell and Bewick, Charlotte and Colombo, Camilla and Sanchez Cuartielles, Joan-Pau and McInnes, Colin (2013) Heliotropic dust rings for Earth climate engineering. Advances in Space Research, 51 (7). pp. 1132-1144. ISSN 0273-1177

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Abstract

This paper examines the concept of a Sun-pointing elliptical Earth ring comprised of dust grains to offset global warming. A new family of non-Keplerian periodic orbits, under the effects of solar radiation pressure and the Earth's J(2) oblateness perturbation, is used to increase the lifetime of the passive cloud of particles and, thus, increase the efficiency of this geoengineering strategy. An analytical model is used to predict the orbit evolution of the dust ring due to solar-radiation pressure and the J(2) effect. The attenuation of the solar radiation can then be calculated from the ring model. In comparison to circular orbits, eccentric orbits yield a more stable environment for small grain sizes and therefore achieve higher efficiencies when the orbit decay of the material is considered. Moreover, the novel orbital dynamics experienced by high area-to-mass ratio objects, influenced by solar radiation pressure and the J(2) effect, ensure the ring will maintain a permanent heliotropic shape, with dust spending the largest portion of time on the Sun facing side of the orbit. It is envisaged that small dust grains can be released from a circular generator orbit with an initial impulse to enter an eccentric orbit with Sun-facing apogee. Finally, a lowest estimate of 1 x 10(12) kg of material is computed as the total mass required to offset the effects of global warming.