Friday, November 20, 2009

What If Earth Had Rings Like Saturn?


Blogger Oliver said...

I was just going to send you this, but see that you already have it. FWIW There's an analysis of rings as a geoengineering tactic here --

1.6% decrease in sunlight is pretty nice, though of course its only the winter hemisphere that gets cooled, which might not be optimal. Aesthetics beat hell out of the other options.

For a while I was worried that the rings would make satellites impossible, but then realised that shepherd moons could keep LEO and GEO bands clear. Clearish, anyway -- for true stability I suspect it might be best to get rid of the moon, or at least to circularise its orbit. Either way beanstalks probably out of the question unless you can bend them so that the trans GEO bit and the cis GEO bit bend out of the equatorial plane in equal/opposite ways.

Then again, who needs satellites? Make the rings of smart dust, and they can do anything you'd want something spacey to do. Sparse-array imaging to any resolution you'd like (except close to the equator) phased array active sensing, communications relays? sure. And you'd only need a small amount of the area to double as a solar power satellite to solve all energy worries. Beyond that where better to store the computing cloud than over the whole ring space, every mote a CPU.

I for one welcome our new ring masters

November 24, 2009 4:03 pm  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

Oh, that's very good - if a bit extreme, even for geoengineering. Am imagining factories settling on and gnawing into NEOs and spewing plumes of smart dust that intersect with Earth's orbit and settle into a plane around the equator...

November 25, 2009 5:51 pm  

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