It makes more sense than you might think.
A team of astrophysicists is suggesting we could protect the Earth from global warming by shooting lunar dust into space to shade the Earth from sunlight, The Washington Post reports.
The Moonshot idea, as detailed in a new paper published this week in the journal PLOS Climate, would involve using massive cannons, mounted on the lunar surface, to launch dust that would eventually settle in orbit between the Sun and the Earth.
Shoot Out the Sun
It's a new and intriguing interplanetary spin on the concept of solar geoengineering, the idea of shooting particles into the Earth's stratosphere to shade the surface below, which has already proven highly controversial among scientists.
After all, they argue, we still have no idea what the outcome of such an invasive technique could be.
But the team behind the new paper argues that it's still better than doing nothing.
"We cannot as humanity let go of our primary goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions here on our planet," Ben Bromley, lead author and astrophysicist at the University of Utah, told the WaPo. "That’s got to be the first job."
The researchers used computer simulations to see what vast quantities of lunar dust could do in orbit around the Earth. They found that the dust could cut sunlight back on the planet's surface by one to two percent.
"Our idea is one — and it’s a very, very intensive one — to contribute to climate change mitigation, if we need more time here at home," Bromley told the newspaper.
It's not the first time researchers have dreamed up space-based potential solutions to our climate woes. In 1989, for instance, scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory suggested we could use a gigantic 1,250-mile glass shield to reflect the Sun's rays.
Others have proposed using armies of tiny spacecraft to act as small sunshades, or even giant swarms of "space bubbles" to block out the Sun.
But using lunar dust, which already exists in abundance on the Moon, would be far more feasible than launching all of the materials from the Earth's surface, a deceivingly simple idea that could allow us to keep our cool for a little longer.
"We really do focus on lunar dust, just plain old, as-it-is lunar dust, without any indication of changing its shape," Bromley told the WaPo.
READ MORE: Researchers want to create a dust shield in space to fight climate change [The Washington Post]
More on geoengineering: Startup Says It's Started Releasing Chemical Into Atmosphere