The Rings of Earth
Various space-engineering projects have been proposed that encircle
planets and stars. Ringworld, Dyson spheres, etc.
However, one pattern which we know is relatively stable is an annular disc.
The planet earth looks destined to fill up - and soon there will
be a shortage of real estate.
Ocean reclamation will be part of
the solution - but more drastic measures will eventually also
need to be taken.
Here, it is proposed that we mine the moon, and create an
annular earth-disc - on which to house additional real estate and
Discs have a large surface area - and consequently should be able
to create a lot of useful space.
Additional real estate at Dubai
The moon is the most convenient source of matter. According to our
understanding of the formation of the solar system, the moon condensed
from a ring around the earth. It is now in an inert and
poorly-accessible blob. The moon would benefit from a shake up.
Material could be ejected into lunar orbit with large explosions, and
from there deployed into a disc around the earth.
The rings would enjoy some of the Earth's radiation
The rings would enjoy protection
from the magnetosphere...
...but may be exposed to radiation
from the Van Allen belts
Ring systems are usually in a state of gradual decay. Collisions
result in frictional forces, which eventually destroy the
The rings of the Earth would not contain colliding particles.
Rather they would be sheperded by satellites - which would intervene
to prevent collisions.
One of the benefits of a ring system is that relative velocities are
kept relatively small - which helps reduce the chances of collision
Because of tidal forces from the moon and the sun, the ideal
circular orbits (which would be most stable) will not be possible.
Instead, semi-elliptical orbits will arise. These will then precess
around the planet - resulting in spirograph-like orbital patterns:
Multiple concentric bands of such rings could be employed. Gaps could
be left between them. These would help prevent collisions - and
allow space for out-of-the-plane satellites.
Friction from the solar wind will cause the ring system to gradually
decay. It will require constant maintenance to retain its shape.
The energy for this could come from the sun, or from a fusion power
source. Possibly, solar sailing techniques could be employed.
Moon - or asteroids?
An alternative to mining the moon is mining the asteroid belt. However,
the asteroid belt is further away - and it has less ice. it will
probably prove to be a less attractive resource - except perhaps for
some rare elements.
Moon - friend or foe?
The moon itself may be unnecessary. It may represent a hazard - by
causing tidal stresses to the earth and its rings.
Proponents may claim that it increases the earth's vulcanism, and
helps keep the earth's core molten, helps drive many ecostystems, and
allows us to harvest tidal power. However, it is far from
obvious that the overall effect is desirable. The moon also
contributes to earthquakes, continental erosion, and adverse weather
Probably we should aim to eventually vaporise the entire moon.
The Rings that were once the Earth
Much the same reasoning that suggests fragmenting the moon, also leads
to the idea that the Earth itself might also benefit from being
divided up - to allow its material resources to be better utilised.
However, it seems possible that the Earth may be preserved for
Saturn's rings - detail
Earth's Artificial Ring: Project West Ford
Space Ring Could Shade Earth and Stop Global Warming
Would a Saturn-like ring system around planet Earth remain stable?
Mining The Moon
Mining The Moon - Technology Review
Mining The Moon - Popular Science