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Discussion » Questions » Science and Technology » Do you think a few rockets could propel Earth into a slightly larger orbit round the Sun, to cool the atmosphere & oceans a few degrees?

Do you think a few rockets could propel Earth into a slightly larger orbit round the Sun, to cool the atmosphere & oceans a few degrees?

Posted - August 5, 2019

Responses


  • No
      August 5, 2019 8:39 PM MDT
    3

  • 3385
    Too easy, hey?
      August 6, 2019 12:32 AM MDT
    2

  • To keep it short and sweet.....yup
      August 6, 2019 3:21 AM MDT
    1

  • 5865
    It doesn't work like that.
      August 5, 2019 8:47 PM MDT
    3

  • 3385
    Ah, well -- I suppose my little grey cells are a little too grey... :/
      August 6, 2019 12:32 AM MDT
    3

  • 28206

      But what if it caused Australia to slide off?  Oh, wait . . . would that be a bad thing?


    ~
      August 5, 2019 9:07 PM MDT
    3

  • 3385

    I doubt if any country in the world would mind if Australia slid off -
    they probably wouldn't even notice.
      August 6, 2019 12:30 AM MDT
    2

  • 28206

     Person 1:  “Hey, where’s Australia?  It was here just a few weeks ago, now it’s gone!”
      Person 2: “What‘s Australia?”

    ~

     
      August 6, 2019 12:41 AM MDT
    2

  • 3385
    The name Australia derives from the Latin, australis, meaning southern, and dates back to 2nd-century legends of an "unknown southern land" (that is terra australis incognita).
    The explorer Matthew Flinders named the land Terra Australis, which was later abbreviated to the current form.

    Thus, somewhere in the world's collective unconscious is buried the idea of a land unknown - a land destined to remain unknown.

    Of those on the Mug who are not Australians, I know of only one who has visited our shores.
    But I'd wager a bet that most have had holidays overseas. This post was edited by bookworm at August 6, 2019 5:22 PM MDT
      August 6, 2019 1:14 AM MDT
    3

  • 28206

      I’ve been to both Fremantle and Perth twice. 

    :)
      August 6, 2019 7:04 AM MDT
    1

  • 28479
    I spent a week in Sydney when I was in the US Navy.
      August 6, 2019 5:23 PM MDT
    1

  • 28479
    Stop that. We would miss you and Slarti.
      August 6, 2019 2:09 PM MDT
    1

  • 4706
    No, I don’t. As an engineer, I have a few thoughts on why not:

    First, the requirement for power and rockets to move the earth in this method is far greater than could be created, or controlled. The cost would be prohibitive, as would the politics. 

    Second, if enough power could be generated and is applied —and it would require pinpoint accuracy and timing— the underlying of layers of soil and bedrock would likely be subject to catastrophic forces. Earthquakes, tsunamis, deformation of the crust and continental plates are virtual certainties. 

    Third, the planet is in motion already, rotating on axis, and tracking in an elliptical orbit at 108,000 kph. The precision necessary to accurately apply directional force to a rapidly moving, spinning object at multiple points to move a preset distance and direction is staggering. Like nudging a speeding, spinning cue ball, that weighs 6 octillion tons, and is covered by sloshing oceans. The math alone would fill volumes. 

    Fourth, assuming we solve those dilemmas (and I for one, do not), how can we know what is far enough to make a difference, or stop from drifting too far. See Newton’s laws: inertia. 
    Given the measures of perigee and apogee in our present orbit, this would entail moving the earth many thousands, or maybe millions of miles. 

    Finally, assuming the entire enterprise hasn’t destroyed the surrounding environment, or suffocated, drowned, immolated, or dislocated every living thing, how do we assure we haven’t disastrously altered the earth’s orbit to one that freezes the planet solid for months at a time. Or worse. 

    This was a fun question. This post was edited by Don Barzini at August 6, 2019 2:10 PM MDT
      August 5, 2019 9:11 PM MDT
    4

  • 3385
    Thank you, Don Barzini, for your genius of an answer.

    The magnitude of the difficulties you describe are wonderful
    because they show that, by comparison, doing what we need to do to slow and mitigate climate change
    is possible.
    Moreover, it's much cheaper than the future costs that will inevitably accrue if we (all nations together) do not act.

    I tend to believe that there is a way to convince conservative parties to come to a bipartisan consensus.
    The key is to show them the science, to show how and why it is not theory or conjecture, exactly how the modelling works and why -
    and from there show the comparative estimated costs for various trajectories.
    The work has already been done by the world's top experts in the field.
    It only requires getting the leaders to come to the round table.

    We have many corporations already in long term planning for climate change. Some of them could be at the table to show some of the ways it's done.
      August 6, 2019 12:18 AM MDT
    3

  • 4706
    It will, as is SOP anymore, take massive initiative from the private sector to prevail upon the apathetic and self-interested bureaucrats to take real action in the common interest. 
    It stuns me how many in the halls of power have sat on the sidelines in the face of the great existential issue of our time, or worse, moronically denied it.

     Our great-grandchildren will judge our collective failure to change course here. 
      August 6, 2019 4:38 AM MDT
    1

  • 2047
    It's not the "bureaucrats" as you call them who are to blame, but the politicians who are supposed to give them the policies to carry out, and vested commercial interests who don't want them carried out.

    Unfortunately, even without deliberate denial for political reasons, too many politicians now have too little real understanding of Science (which identifies the problems and possible solutions) and Engineering (to try to instigate the solutions). Also, both the Scientists and Engineers need consider and teach the politicians, potential chains of effects beyond mere over-simplified immediacy, pat answers and silly clichés like "Zero Carbon" and "Renewable Energy".  

    Technically ignorant as a class, the political types stay baffled, far more inclined to listen to a Swedish schoolgirl probably still too young to start her university science or media-studies course, or the Extinction Rebellion mob of whom most are probably at Janet & John book level on How Electricity Works.
    '

    How many campaigners and far more importantly than many of those, politicians, know the differences and links between Fuel, Power and Energy? The primary nature of Energy? The (technical) concept of Efficiency? The difference between Hazard and Risk? The real consequences beyond mere fuel use of "leaving the oil & coal in the ground" - and indeed its eventual depletion?

    If they don't know all those five very simple fundamentals, little above primary-school science level, and I'm happy to explain, they lack the scientific or engineering credibility they want to us mere mortals to assume in them. 

     
      August 6, 2019 7:39 AM MDT
    2

  • 4706
    So true. Well put. 
      August 6, 2019 1:54 PM MDT
    1

  • 2047
    Definitely neither desirable nor feasible!

    Would it not also involve altering the planet's orbital speed or would that come automatically? Conservation of Angular Momentum?

    I wondered if a (relatively) simple decibel calculation on the wanted change to the intensity of Solar radiation on the Earth's surface would give the necessary increase in radius, but I'm afraid I have become a bit too rusty on spherical-spreading by dB sums! Doubling the radius would be far too drastic, by quartering the intensity.
      August 6, 2019 8:02 AM MDT
    1

  • 4706
    Yes. We’ve merely scratched the surface of the untold millions of calculations that would be involved. To my eye, all confirm the need for a different plan. 

    In the method we discuss here, we’d be changing the length of the year at the very minimum, perhaps unintentionally compromising the tilt of the axis, and (egad!) what about the moon? Does it follow the earth to a new solar orbit, or is it lost from the earth’s gravity? 
      August 6, 2019 2:23 PM MDT
    1

  • 28479
    Dang. I promise I did not steal those answers from you. (The moon and axis.)
      August 6, 2019 5:28 PM MDT
    1

  • 4706
    No, surely you didn’t. Credit where credit is due. I read your post first. 
      August 6, 2019 5:43 PM MDT
    1

  • 2047
    The Moon - I too was wondering what that would do! Intriguing question.
      August 7, 2019 3:15 PM MDT
    0

  • 6504
    Indeed.

    And I found myself as a theoretical physicist rolling my eyes when I read the question---and then you enumerated why.


      August 6, 2019 2:04 PM MDT
    2

  • 28479
    My thoughts exactly, but you are better able to verbalize it. Let's also add axis tilt to the equation.
      August 6, 2019 2:12 PM MDT
    1