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 ")

Students! NASA Wants To 3D Print Your Tool Design In Space!
'Mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'- Arthur C. Clarke, 1979

Flock Of Minisats Will Image The Earth
'We... dropped roughly a thousand eyes on Beta Hydri IV.'- Robert Silverberg, 1969.

The Manned Maneuvering Unit Story
'Little spurts of red-orange flame from the reaction pistol marked his companion's trail...'- Gordon A. Giles, 1937.

Bigelow's Inflatable BEAM Module Ready For ISS In 2015
'The bubble had inflatable seats and an inflatable table...'- Larry Niven, 1994.

 

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

Physicists Build Repulsor / Tractor Beam
'Brandon swung mighty tractor beams upon the severed halves of the Jovian vessel...'

High Fidelity Produces More Expressive Avatars!
'They are the audiovisual bodies that people use to communicate with each other...'

Will You Upload Your Mind Anytime Soon?
And if so, how long will the copy last?

Students! NASA Wants To 3D Print Your Tool Design In Space!
'Mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'

Amazing ARES Augmented Reality Sandbox
'First he showed him where the input and output of his brand-new kingdom were, and how to program wars...'

'3D Light Sculpture' Projected Directly Onto Retina
'...projects directly on the retina of the eye…'

3D Printer Vending Machine Dispenses Dreams
'Nanofax AG offers a technology that digitally reproduces objects, physically, at a distance.'

Why Not Nurse Grandma With A Robot?
'She's made of a combination of springs, levers, acoustic instruments...'

Flock Of Minisats Will Image The Earth
'We... dropped roughly a thousand eyes on Beta Hydri IV.'

Should Robots Have Civil Rights?
'I've seen things... you people wouldn't believe...'

Robert Heinlein, Your Self-Driving Car Is Almost Ready!
'Mary Risling settled back for a little nap...'

The Manned Maneuvering Unit Story
'Little spurts of red-orange flame from the reaction pistol marked his companion's trail...'

Scheherazade, An Open Story Generator
'How can you compete with an IBM heavy-duty logomatic analogue?'

Sample The In Vitro Meat Cookbook
'I grabbed two Syntho-Steaks out of the freezer...'

'Diamond Nanothreads' Now, Someday Space Elevators?
'It is a continuous pseudo-one dimensional diamond crystal'

Erased Memories In A Flash Of Light
'Someone, probably at a government military-sciences lab, erased his conscious memories...'

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.