Staying grounded in space requires artificial gravity

There’s no gravity in space, but scientists have a couple of ideas on the way to make it

In many books, movies and television shows, people on spaceships walk around like they might on Earth. In real world , though, astronauts in space float. The difference isn’t simply because the books, movies and television are fiction. It’s that in those fictional worlds, artificial gravity exists. In our world it doesn’t — yet. But it's going to be coming.

Gravity may be a fundamental force. It attracts objects with mass toward one another . Objects with tons of mass — like Earth — attract other objects toward their centers. this is often why we stand firmly on the bottom regardless of where on Earth we are. Gravity decreases with distance, though. So as people visit the Moon or Mars, their pull toward Earth quickly weakens, which leaves them floating.This might sound like fun. But life without gravity isn’t great. in the future , our bones and muscles don’t work as hard during a gravity-free environment. This weakens them. Without gravity, blood and other bodily fluids don’t flow normally and may collect within the upper body. this will stop hearing.Also, floating around in zero gravity causes you to puke.

One approach would be to “use electricity and magnetism as how of substituting for gravity,” McKinnon explains. “You can create that magnetic flux by running electricity around in a circle ,” she says. The flow of electrical current produces magnetism. All an astronaut would need to do is wear metal boots. The attraction between the metal and therefore the magnet would help someone walk along the ground .

The work required to steer against a magnet may additionally limit bone and muscle loss in space. But being stuck to the ground isn’t an equivalent as gravity. Fluids would still be ready to collect within the upper body. And your stomach would still be awfully confused.

Let’s study gravity

Scientists could attempt to harness real gravity, McKinnon says. Everything with mass has gravity, she points out. So one simple idea would be to possess tons of mass. “Build yourself a planet then you’ve got enough gravity,” but , she adds, That’s not very convenient to possess to create a planet or carry a planet around with you.” Instead, she explains, the key could be to urge tons of mass into a really small area.Neutron stars, for instance , are extremely dense. A teaspoon of neutron-star material could be enough to offer us gravity, she says. Or a “tiny pencil prick” of a region . Both of those exert vast amounts of gravity for his or her size.But how could you contain a region — even a small one — within the middle of a spaceship? “That’s an engineering problem,” McKinnon says. “And we've no idea what the engineering would be.”


There's another trick we can use if we like: we can make a spaceship rotate. Instead of a linear acceleration (like a thrust on a rocket), you can have a centripetal acceleration at work, where a person on board will feel the outer hull of a spaceship pushing them towards the center. This was used famously in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and would, if your spacecraft were large enough, be indistinguishable from a gravitational force.But that's absolutely it. Those three types of acceleration — gravitational, linear, and rotational — are the only ones we have that will have the effects of gravity. Which is a big, big problem aboard a spaceship.


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