Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

Gravity Tractor Research By British Scientists

A gravity tractor is now in the planning stages at EADS Astrium, the aerospace subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company.


(Gravity tractor concept diagram)

Dr. Ralph Cordey, EADS Astrium's head of exploration and business, describes the project:

"We think this is a practical method for deflecting asteroids... The gravity tractor... you would hover a spacecraft very close to an asteroid and use the feeble force of gravity... like the force on your hand from several coins... If that acts over a sufficiently long period, maybe ten years, maybe fifteen years, then you could subtly deflect the asteroid from its path...

"What we're trying to do now is put some practical engineering around this idea... "

The idea of a gravity tractor was put forward in 2005 by Edward T. Lu and Stanley G. Love in 2005 in Nature.

The main problem with the idea is that you would need either a spaceship of considerable mass - or a less massive ship exerting its efforts over a much longer time. Why not just dispense with the mass?

That's the basic idea behind the (regrettably merely science fictional) tractor beam, as first described by 'Doc' Smith in his 1931 novel Space Hounds of IPC.

"We'll carry off the pieces of that ship, too, QuinceŚwe may be able to get a lot of pointers from it," and Brandon swung mighty tractor beams upon the severed halves of the Jovian vessel..."
(Read more about tractor beam)

Tractor beams are so handy, and the phrase is so descriptive, that it has been used over and over in science fiction. Pity poor Edmund Hamilton, who had the basic idea first, but called it the attractive ray in his 1928 classic Crashing Suns.

Via BBC.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/2/2009)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 5 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

The Warp And Fabric Of Spacetime
'Jenkins had evidently fallen into a warp in space.' - Schachner and Zagat, 1930.

NASA Tests Prototype Europa Lander
Why have legs if they don't walk around? Just asking.

NASA's Psyche Mission To Metal Asteroid Launches Thursday!
'We can even fuel the space ships and mine the Asteroid Belt for rare metals...'

Space Weather To Universe Weather
'It radiates outward in a cone which, by the time it has reached our section of space, is many lightyears across.' - Poul Anderson, 1953.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Current News

Russians Think US Is Weaponizing Asteroids
'BY PUSHING AGAINST THE LITTLE MARTIAN MOON WITH OUR ROCKET SHIP, WE HAD LESSENED THE CENTRIFUGAL SPEED THAT HELD IT BALANCED IN THE SKY.'

The Warp And Fabric Of Spacetime
'Jenkins had evidently fallen into a warp in space.'

'Birds Aren't Real' An NPR Gen-Z Conspiracy
Keep your eyes on the skies!

Wearable Energy Harvester
'... he had tightened the chest to gain maximum pumping action from the motion of breathing.'

Drones Participate In Buddhist Rites
'...a prayer wheel swung into view and began spinning at a furious pace.'

Anna Indiana AI Singer-Songwriter
'She is a personality-construct, a congeries of software agents'

Video Manicuring ala Schismatrix
'The program raced up the screen one scan line at a time'

'Feel the AGI' OpenAI Leader Now OpenWorship
'And are all the people willing to be governed by a machine?'

NASA Tests Prototype Europa Lander
Why have legs if they don't walk around?

Tailsitter Drone Aircraft For SAR
'...it was so easy for me to remain motionless in midair.'

Forward CarePod The AI Doctor's Office
'It's an old model,' Rawlins said. 'I'm not sure what to do.'

Mika The Robot-Boss
'the robot-boss was busy at the lip of the new lode instructing and egging the men on to greater speed...'

Yamaha Motoroid 2 No Handlebars Self-Balancing Motorcycle
'He rode the bike with an intense lack of physical grace...'

San Francisco Autobus
'THE autobus turned silently down the wide street...'

Should Your Car Decide If You Can Drive?
'Okay. Maybe the car was right...'

Lucid Dreams On Demand From Prophetic and Card79
'the peeper did not operate by virtue of its machinery alone, but by the reaction of the brain and the body of its user...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.