We discuss and comment on the role agriculture will play in the containment of the CO2 problem and address protocols for terraforming the planet Earth.
A model farm template is imagined as the central methodology. A broad range of timely science news and other topics of interest are commented on.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
One more visit to this presently intractable problem.We need a self mobile garbage can that
catches up on junk and absorbs it safely.Since the majority of junk is more or less flying in formation that part
should be feasible.The present problem
is that we still use reaction mass which makes it all impractical.
This problem will not be solved until we have an inexpensive space
propulsion system that can operate for weeks at a time.The ultimate is the MFEV or magnetic field
exclusion vessel, but that is around twenty years away yet.The question is whether we have a way using
Space sails rigged with a long space funnel with a large mouth could
plausibly help. The mouth could even be a huge wound ring that spins everything
toward the center with an induced magnetic field,In fact it could be rigged to react with a
power surge on contact. Since all material would also have to end up in a
target catchment device, that could be set to automatically send it on in an
orbit that takes it quickly to burn up, it becomes possible to envisage real
How magnetic space debris actually is needs to be answered.
Over the past few years we
have endured idea after idea on how to remove spacedebris. The list is
almost endless. There is the ground-based high energy laser that will zap trash
right out of space. Tethers can do it better, faster and cheaper. Water sprays
are simple and effective. Orbiting trash cans make all kinds of sense. Air
bursts are very clean and simple. Nets can collect lots of debris quickly. And,
the list goes on and on.
Our all-time favorite idea is
"Space Balls" that can passively collect trash and naturally dispose
of themselves by reentry into the atmosphere.
Let's do a simple reality
check. Every one of the proposed ideas has at least one major flaw. Some
violate the laws of physics. Some are too technologically complex to
effectively implement. Some violate existing space treaties. Some present
serious safety issues.
But, all violate the most
important law: affordability. To date, there are no known solutions to the
space debris collisions-with-satellites threat that can be justified on a cost
basis. Satellites placed in orbits between about 700 and 1100 km are
exposed to an increasing collision threat from the growing density of debris
objects in that zone.
The issue to date has been one
of finding a remediation solution: How do we remove enough debris to stabilize
debris proliferation? Recent studies indicate that removing a few key
large debris items each year may arrest the debris growth rate. However, these
studies make several assumptions which are questionable in view of recent
events such as the Iridium-Cosmos collision and the continued addition
of new satellites to the high-debris zone.
Let's hypothetically assume
that the removal of 10 large expired satellites per year will stabilize debris
growth. Each object removal flight will likely cost about as much as placing a
new satellite in orbit, say $200 million. Ten of these per year would then cost
a total of about $2 billion annually.
Once we have a cost number,
several other issues become important. Who will pay for the missions? The
Russians (and former USSR) are the known worst offenders. Then there are the
US, Europe and China. Are there any volunteers to spend this kind of money just
to take out a small amount ofspace trash? We don't hear any enthusiastic
outcries of "I will."
Remember, the $2 billion
annual expenditure does not clean up space, but only removes a few large
objects. There remain at least hundreds of thousands of other objects ranging
in size from several meters to a few millimeters that can damage or destroy a
spacecraft in the danger zone of debris.
Many of you will immediately
point out that we should carry out dual-purpose missions in which a removal is
possible each time we launch a new satellite. This would be very nice, but not
practical due to several factors.
First, new satellites like to
go to specific orbits, while dangerous debris objects are generally not easily
reachable as secondary mission objectives. Second, each basic launch mission
would likely be much more complicated if a secondary mission were added, e.g.,
additional hardware and fuel would be required.
Larger launch vehicles would
be needed and reliability might be compromised.
So, is there a practical and
affordable solution to the debris issue? Yes, but we have not yet found it.