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 ")

Asteroids Threaten Earth? New Study Details Laser Ablation Method
'This obelisk is one huge deflector mechanism...' - Gene Roddenberry, 1968.

Martian Concrete, Rich In Sulphur, Made After Arrival
'We have been mining steadily, and making some photocells...' - John W. Campbell, 1951.

NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission
'[Asteroid] Eighty-eight received a series of gentle pats, always on the side headed along her course...' - Robert Heinlein, 1939.

Space Synthetic Biology Grand Challenges
'What better purifying machine is there than a plot of grass?' - George O. Smith,

 

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

Denisovans, Neandertals... And Us?
'But in far realms, among strange hominids, you couldn't shun each other, either.'

Patented! Google's Autonomous Delivery Trucks
I hope Google's trucks can find my house!

3 Parent Embryos Approved By Bioethicists
' A tkan merely courts a mlenb and is attracted to a good guur...'

DIY Armed UAV (Toy)
'Each a television eye and a sonic stunner...'

Tired Of Speeders On Your Block? DIY Speed Tracker!
'There is no danger of a vehicle's speed exceeding that allowed in the section in which it happens to be...'

Centriphone Whirling Selfie Camera
''Tight mid-shot and pull out on but behind me,' he told it...'

Eagles Vs. Drones
'Moon bird's view was... partly blocked by the pyramid, so that he did not see the bird-things dark against the brilliant sky...'

SCiO Scanner Wants You To Be Spock
Almost as easy as a tricorder?

Self-Adapting Composite Heals Itself
'...Could seal the punctures that grain-of-sand-sized meteors might make.'

Rigid Clothing, Or Wearable Furniture?
'Earth's scientists solved the problem to some extent by devising rigid metallic clothing...'

Swarming Intelligent Aquatic Surface Robots Ahoy!
'A remote-controlled emulsion, as it were, with uniform center...'

SuitX Cheap Medical Exoskeleton
'... standing on two corrugated-soled titanium footplates...'

Harvesting Energy From Internal Resonance
'Sometimes a man has a windmill on his roof...'

Sticker Harvests Energy From Your Skin
Another way to harvest power from the body.

Twitter Sarcasm Detected By Computer
Seriously?

Myo-Controlled Prosthetic Arm
'Sensitive actuators touch the tendons in your right wrist.'

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.