Wednesday, 17 August 2016

bandwidth and broomsticks

This latest item from the always brilliant BLDGBlog about the US Department of Defense exploring the “controlled enhancement” of the ionosphere by deploying fleets of tiny satellites high into the sky that would effectively self-destruct in bursts of plasma to create a temporary conduit for the propagation of radio waves made me immediately think of Project West-Ford—in that very special episode, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, under warrant of the government, seeded the upper atmosphere with hundreds of thousands of microscopic needles as a contingency measure in case the trans-Atlantic cables were cut.
The earlier project didn’t go over so well (it is cheeky to seek forgiveness rather than ask for permission), and with satellite com- munication having advanced so far, I had to wonder if this avenue was still a potentially profitable one. I suppose that greater accuracy in targeting signals and reducing some of the deteriorating effects of radio turbulence might prove useful and tending to essential in controlling larger fleets of aerial and autonomous drones. Moreover, relayed aloft by plasmatic mirrors, the curvature of the Earth would, in theory, no longer be a limiting factor in terms of range. What do you think? Be sure to check out the whole article for more synthesis and speculation. I also wondered if such a stratospheric infrastructure already being put into place might not also be used to reflect away some of the Sun’s radiation and combat global warming.