Time for O in my Sci-Fi themed A-to-Z Challenge!
Orbital mirrors appear in science-fiction as a means of focusing more sunlight and thus heat onto a planetary or satellite surface. One of the first such uses was in the story Completely Automatic, by Theodore Sturgeon in 1941. In that story, Saturn’s moon Titan had orbital mirrors deployed around it to heat it up to a habitable temperature.
Heating Up Mars – or Cooling the Earth
Real world research on orbital mirrors has looked into ways to focus solar energy from the sun onto one area on Earth. Project Zynamya was a series of Russian experimental orbital mirrors – a project pursued with the hope of getting more energy from the sun. Unfortunately, this project didn’t work out and was abandoned in the 1990s.
Other possible uses for space mirrors include reflecting back some of the sunlight coming at Earth as a countermeasure to global climate change. The main reason this hasn’t been attempted? It would be an absolute nightmare to maintain!
Yet another avenue for this research involves the idea of focusing more light onto a patch of martian surface to heat it up. Again, this plan would have the problem of maintenance, and would also run the risk of focusing more harmful radiation onto the already hazardous surface of Mars.
There are a lot of big problems with orbital mirrors, but like any good science-fiction idea, it’s definitely worth investigating.
More about orbital mirrors: