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

 

MIT Tether For Walking On Asteroids

MIT researchers have devised a tether to help astronauts walk across small asteroids on future missions. The tether system (a "circumferential rope") would wrap all the way around the asteroid. This really adds a new dimension to the term "asteroid belt." MIT website wallahs dub it an "asterope.*"


(Asterope MIT asteroid tether system with circumferential rope diagram)

The MIT researchers, Christopher Carr and Ian Garrick-Bethell, anticipate that astronauts will find it difficult to work on the surface of an asteroid, due to the extremely low gravity. An asteroid one kilometer in diameter would have a surface gravity just 1/28000th that of the Earth; an astronaut could literally jump right off the asteroid and not come back down.

Once tethered, however, astronauts could walk across the surface in a more normal manner, and perform physical chores like digging a small hole or pulling objects from the surface more easily.

The idea of wrapping a tether all the way around an asteroid may seem like an extreme solution. However, the loose composition of asteroids could make other strategies, like drilling or attaching a permanent "bolt" or other hardware to the surface, impossible to implement.

The ropes are ideally ribbon shaped, with enough width so that when tightened their force per unit area on the surface does not cause them to cut too deeply into the regolith.

There has been an increase in interest in asteroid science and exploration in the last few years; the Dawn mission will try to fly to Vesta and Ceres, the largest rocks in the solar system. NASA is also studying a manned mission to a Near Earth Object and even the possibility of using an asteroid as a radiation shield. Moving asteroids that will come too close to Earth has also been discussed. A circumferential tether could come in handy in the near future.

Carr and Garrick-Bethell are publishing their work in an upcoming issue of the journal Acta Astronautica.

Via MIT; also, take a look at the paper (Working and walking on small asteroids with circumferential ropes) and find out more about asteroids.

* The only evidence that I can find for the "asterope" name is the filename for the graphic that depicts the tether system on the MIT site. But I like it! [One of the paper's authors, Ian Garrick-Bethell, writing to me in an email, says he doesn't know where the name "asterope" comes from.]

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/27/2007)

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 ( 2 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

Starlab By Nanoracks, A Commercial Space Station
'Webb Foster had built his space laboratory... It was a great crystal sphere, a thousand feet in diameter.'

SpaceX Creates 'Tholian Web' Mega Constellation Of Satellites
'We shall not see home again!' - Gene Roddenberry, 1969.

It's Spacewalk Sunday, Thanks To The ESA
'The delicious, indescribable pleasure of being a little planet swinging through space...' - Garrett P. Serviss, 1898.

NASA Predicts Radiation Risks
'...in order to check the deadly short-wave gamma rays of space.' - Max Valier, 1931.

 

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

Jetson ONE Personal Electric Aerial Vehicle
Who says you can't have your flying car?

Starlab By Nanoracks, A Commercial Space Station
'Webb Foster had built his space laboratory... It was a great crystal sphere, a thousand feet in diameter.'

Auto-Targeting Fire Sprinkler Systems Now Reality
I think every kitchen should have one of these.

Monarch Tractor - It's Electric, Autonomous and Smart
'Driver-optional' and follows gestures.

'Seabreeze' Apple And UCLA Project To Beat Depression
'It's illegal to hold back information during a psyche test,' the machine said peevishly.'

Hovermap By Emesent Autonomous Mapping Works Indoors - and Out
Perfect for exploring ancient artifacts on distant planets.

Sono Motor's Sion Sun-Powered Car
'...six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'

LEONARDO Robot Has Legs And Thrusters, Can Skateboard, Slackline
'a walking balloon proceeded with long strides of its aluminum legs over a slant of steep upland.'

Xavier Robots On Patrol For 'Anti-Social Behavior'
'This was as close as a robot could get to a cop in uniform.'

Rotating House in Bosnia
'... feel free to turn the house on your own.'

Ingenious Engineer Creates DIY Feeding Robot
'Waldo flexed and extended his fingers gently; the two pairs of waldoes in the screen followed in exact, simultaneous parallelism.'

SpaceX Creates 'Tholian Web' Mega Constellation Of Satellites
'We shall not see home again!'

Do Smart Glasses Need Forward-Facing Cameras?
'They were stylish, with yellow-tinted lenses and hip frames, but the posts were unusually thick.'

Adorable One-Seater Electric Car From Wuxi Sinotech
'Noiselessly, on rubber-tired wheels, they journeyed...'

Zoom Adds Real-Time, Live Translation
'He immediately turned the small shining disc of the Language Rectifier..'

It's Spacewalk Sunday, Thanks To The ESA
'The delicious, indescribable pleasure of being a little planet swinging through space...'

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.