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, Quince—we 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 ")

Is 'The Pulsar Positioning System' Evidence For SETI?
'For a hyperspace jump, you need at least four beacons for an accurate fix.' - Harry Harrison, 1959.

Are Observed Radio Bursts An Alien Propulsion Technology?
'These cones were driven through space by light pressure, the possibilities of which force they had long utilized.' - Edmond Hamilton, 1929.

Caltech's ET Laboratory Looks For New Earths
'...set my automatic astronomical instruments to searching for a habitable planet.'- Edmond Hamilton, 1936.

Shh! USAF's Secret X-37B Space Plane Breaks Record
'More airplane than spaceship...' - Robert Heinlein, 1951.

 

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

Cattle Avoidance Feature In Indian Autonomous Cars
'The driver went about the business of gently slipping the teflon-coated metal scoop beneath the first animal...'

Project KOVR Fashion Protection From Infosphere
'... the entire shroudlike membrane took on whatever physical characteristics were projected at any nanosecond.'

Twist Bioscience High Density Digital Data On DNA
'They tied the memory to the bloodline and that was their record!'

'We're Not Creating A Terminator' Say Russians About Gun-Wielding Robot Fedor
Nobody is thinking about the Terminator. Westworld, maybe.

Vantablack Now IMMEASURABLY Black
'a black coating now that’s ninety-nine percent absorptive...'

Mercedes-Benz Autonomous Taxi Fleet In 3 Years
'... the taxi utilized sophisticated electronic sensors to perceive its surroundings.'

Is 'The Pulsar Positioning System' Evidence For SETI?
'For a hyperspace jump, you need at least four beacons for an accurate fix.'

Someday, You Might Like VR Enough To Move In
'That barrier was going to melt away someday soon. The transhumanists had promised...'

Humans Use Mental Power For Turtle Slavery
Now we need to start looking for animals with fingers...

Solar-Powered Moisture Vaporator
'The atmosphere yielded its moisture with reluctance.'

DxtER! Tricorder Prize Won By Final Frontier Medical Devices
We've been waiting a long time for this, Star Trek fans.

President Trump's Wall As Otra Nation Hyperloop
'...an hollow tube must be constructed the whole distance... as to admit a four wheeled carriage...'

Pickup Lines From Artificial Intelligences
'They hate us, you know... The humans. They'll stop at nothing.'

Pooper Scooper Drone Robot Watchdog 1
'Robots pick up the garbage and junk...'

Cassie Robot Brings AT-ST Walker To Life
There's even a log test!

Hundreds Of Robot Lawnmowers Invade Texas Town
'The mower reached the edge of the lawn, clucked to itself...'

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.