A question, which is being asked and repeated in the NCE* letters two weeks back, is: “Why don’t we get rid of our waste products, including nuclear, into the sun?”
(* – NCE is the weekly magazine sent to all members of the Institution of Civil Engineers (UK)).
this is not, apparently , considered to be an unrealistic question when one considers the huge difficulty the UK authorities have been facing in obtaining a nuclear waste disposal site!
Here is the answer given:-
“The Sun’s gravitational pull on the earth is balanced by centrifugal force as the earth circles in its orbit at a distance of about 90M miles. That is, the Earth travels about 285M miles in a year or 32,500 miles per hour along its orbit. Before any such waste matter in an earth orbit can “fall” into the Sun, we have to kill the centrifugal force by slowing the orbital speed of the waste to zero.
That is the same thing as launching the waste from earth at a speed of 32,500mph, much greater than the effort of sending it to the Moon. Anything less and the expelled waste will go into some intermediate solar orbit and add to the pollution of space, which is already a feature of low satellite orbits around the earth.
Provided such waste is launched from near the Equator, we do “save” about l,200mph by using the rotational speed of the earth about its own axis, so perhaps we should look to tropical countries for a lead here.”
In this week there was a reply published which questioned these figures suggesting that even more energy would be required than given here.
Now, I do think that this may be too pessimistic! I seem to remember that the various probes NASA have sent as far as Mars and Pluto, were given a massive boost on their way each time they passed near a planet in the same manner as a “sling-shot” by accelerating them into planetary orbit and spinning them off out of orbit in the right direction eventaully to arrive at the next planet.
So, why not use the same technique? It would cost hunderds of $millions per kilo I am sure. But cheap at the price considering the cost of the proposed repositories. LOL!
Do any of our readers have any better ideas?