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 ")

NASA's Interplanetary Internet DTN
'This was the center of Interplanetary Communications.' - George O. Smith, 1942.

Io's Sulphur Dioxide
'All the water in the air froze first and made a blanket ten feet thick or so...' - Fritz Lieber, 1951.

Tethers Unlimited Satellite Mini-Thrusters
'They combined the absolute maximum of sheer thrust with the irreducible minimum of flyability.' - Murray Leinster,

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) Looks Nearby
'I... set my automatic astronomical instruments to searching it for a habitable planet.'- Edmond Hamilton, 1936.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Self-Healing Textiles! Say Goodbye To Torn Jeans
'The constant renewal of the fibers, repairing any faults...'

Fleets Of Ford Autonomous Cars In 5 Years
'He urgently addressed the vehicle's AI."Can't we go any faster?'

Electric Head Patch Helps PTSD Patients
'Don't confuse this with the little ten amp neurosis models.'

MEDi Robot Calms The Nervous Patient
'Specially programmed stabilizing surrogate devices.'

NASA's Interplanetary Internet DTN
'This was the center of Interplanetary Communications.'

Superior Morals For Autonomous Cars
Exemplars of military and civic virtue.

Housekeeping Robots Easy To Imagine, Tough To Make
George Jetson had it easy.

Augmented Reality On Construction Sites
'To Nigel Bishop, the walls had become blue glass...'

Moorebot Personal Assistant Robot
'...a full-size 38-tube fully automatic companion for you!'

One-Shot Gene Therapy Cure $665K
One shot - one cure. Guaranteed.

Laser 'Autonomous Target Selection' Now Available To Curiosity Rover
And, given the birthday situation, is this a good time?

Ultrasonic Wireless ‘Neural Dust’ Sensors For Medical Monitoring
'These dustmotes already had sensors and independence built in.'

Breathable Carbon Nanotube Membrane For 'Smart Uniforms'
'The 'skin's got these reflexes, changes its permeability...'

Record 1007 Robots Dance In Harbinger Of Doom
Okay, Sonny, I know you're out there.

Cicret Makes Your Skin Into A Display
'On the translucent mica-like coverings over the orifices, appeared reddish characters...'

Tesla's To Eye Future With New Sensors?
'I want to show you something new in the way of an automobile.'

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.