Artificial gravity is the generation of an inertial force in a spacecraft to simulate gravity. This concept has been seen in, but not limited to, science fiction shows such as “Star Trek,” and scientists are actively working on methods to engineer artificial gravity in space.
The development of artificial gravity would not only simplify the future era of space travel by making chores easier, but it would also be essential for future space tourism.
Because the consequences of microgravity in space can be dangerous for humans, artificial gravity may be necessary for the health of our astronauts as we consider longer crewed journeys, such as expeditions to Mars.
In his 1905 special theory of relativity, Albert Einstein wrote that gravity and acceleration are in fact indistinguishable. This means that in a rocket traveling at 31.19 feet per second (9.81 meters per second) squared – the downward acceleration of gravity here on Earth – an astronaut would feel his body anchored to the ground, just as he is on his home planet.
One possible way to create artificial gravity in space is to use a technology called the O’Neill cylinder. Named after the physicist who proposed them, Gerard O’Neill, they are a pair of massive cylinders that spin in opposite directions, allowing them to be continuously pointed at the sun, mimicking gravity.
The problem is that you can’t always accelerate at that rate in space, especially in an orbiting space station. Fortunately, there is more than one form of acceleration – and by using centrifugal force we can generate something equivalent to gravity on Earth.
Jeff Bezos, the owner of space exploration company Blue Origin, proposed O’Neill cylinders as the basis for floating space colonies, allowing billions of humans to live in orbit.
Besides being far from any kind of practical application, at 20 miles (32.2 kilometers) long and 4 miles (6.4 km) in diameter – designed to house several million people – the O’Neill cylinders are far too large for most applications smaller than colonies in space.
Researchers at the University of Boulder in Colorado have a smaller-scale suggestion – rotating systems that could fit inside spacecraft chambers. While this would not provide artificial gravity for the entire craft or station, it would allow space travelers to retreat to a specific area and spend time experiencing a gravitational field closer to that of the Earth.
The system also uses centrifugal acceleration, replicating a 1G gravitational field – the same as on Earth – with astronauts lying on a short-radius spinner for rapid spin. However, rotating astronauts may not be the ideal solution. As anyone who has used teacups one too many times can tell you, this method has its own health effects.
Another potential design for creating artificial gravity is a long rotating stick-shaped vehicle about 100 meters (328 ft) in diameter with a nuclear reactor at one end and a crew compartment at the other for travel to March. However, these had engineering problems preventing their application. THE HEALTH EFFECTS OF MICROGRAVITY
The establishment of artificial gravity could be essential to protect the health of astronauts during long-term space missions. For five decades, NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP) has studied the effects of microgravity on the human body. They found that deprived of Earth’s gravity, weight-bearing bones lose an average of 1-1.5% of mineral density each month of spaceflight. Muscle mass is lost faster in microgravity conditions than on Earth.
In addition to these factors, during spaceflight, fluids in the human body can move upwards, putting pressure on the eyes, which can lead to vision problems. THE VOYAGER SPACE HOTEL
The Voyager space station is a rotating-wheeled space station slated to begin construction in 2025. Launched by the Orbital Assembly Corporation (OAC), Voyager will differ from the International Space Station in two main ways; it will be open to the public, and it will have artificial gravity. Placed in low Earth orbit, the space hotel will spin fast enough to generate artificial gravity for its 400 occupants. If the station is completed as currently planned, it will become the largest man-made structure ever placed in orbit.
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- Future technology explains artificial gravity
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