What if a hurricane could be defused by weather-controlling satellites? BBC Future investigates why this sci-fi staple is such a tall task.
Posted on BBC | By Peter Ray Allison
From Star Trek to The Jetsons, one of the hallmarks of an advanced civilisation is seen as the ability to control the weather. More recently, the film Geostorm portrayed a network of satellites designed to prevent catastrophic storms.
As last year’s devastating Atlantic hurricanes demonstrated, we are at the mercy of the weather. Could we ever manipulate it from space?
The idea of tweaking the weather from afar is not as far-fetched as it sounds. As BBC Future reported in 2014, scientists have been on the case for years, albeit using planes rather than satellites. From 1962 to 1983, the American government ran Project Stormfury, which was an attempt to weaken tropical storms by flying aircraft into a storm and seeding it with silver iodide.
Silver iodide is an inorganic compound used as an antiseptic. The theory was that the silver iodide would cause the supercooled water in the storm to freeze, thereby disrupting the internal structure of the hurricane.