Non-Conductive Tethers - Free Artificial Gravity In Orbit
Tethers connecting satellites or space stations have some interesting effects even if they are not conductive (see Electrodynamic Tethers: Clean Up Debris - Power or Boost Spacecraft). A non-conductive tether made of a very strong, light material like Kevlar can be used to connect two objects in orbit, one farther away from the Earth than the other.
Two forces act on any object in stable orbit; an outward-pulling centrifugal force balanced by a downward gravitational force. Connecting two satellites in different orbits will cause them to act as one system. The outer satellite will experience a weaker gravitational force and a stronger centrifugal force; a net force pushes the satellite outward. The opposite set of conditions prevails on the lower satellite. The lower satellite orbits faster, and tows the other along like a water skier. The system reaches equilibrium when the tether aligns in the radial direction towards Earth.
(From Electrodynamic Tethers)
The effect is rather small; a fifty kilometer tether would produce about one percent of Earth's gravity. However, it may be that this very small acceleration could reduce the problems with constant free fall, which is a constant irritant on space missions. Liquids would tend to settle (slowly), and everyone would know where "up" was.
I went ahead and purchased online access for a year of SA as well as access to their archives. That material looks great on my laptop! (Hopefully this unsolicited testimonial will make them happier about the one purloined image shown above.) Science fiction writers have also been interested in the idea of generating microgravity environments in orbit. Science fiction author David Brin has made a good story (from 1982) available; you might want to go read Tank Farm Dynamo. This story gives you a good idea of what it might be like to live in this environment. The story takes maybe fifteen minutes to read.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/9/2004)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 3 )
Related News Stories -
Elon Musk Tweets Versions Of Clarke's Operation Cleanup
'Fortunately, the old orbital forts were superbly equipped for this task.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1978.
Espresso Telescope Searches For Exoplanets
'These instruments were the wonderful ones our astronomers had perfected.' - Edmond Hamilton, 1936.
Manned Maneuvering Unit From 1984
'The glittering little rocket bolted to the black iron behind him.' - Jack Williamson, 1933.
Astronaut Gets Younger In Space
'So what we're looking for now is not an antibiotic - an anti-life drug - but an anti-agathic, an anti-death drug...' - James Blish, 1957.
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.
Swarm Of Mindless Robots Works Together
'Very tiny pseudo insects that... can unite to form a superordinate system.'
SpotMini Robot Dog, Autonomous And On Sale In 2019
Great, an autonomous slamhound. It is cute, though.
RoboFly Is Laser-Powered, Adorable
Don't swat this fly!
MSG Sphere Las Vegas, ala Star Wars
'The smoky globe, hung in the vault, was shot with colored light...'
Tetraplegics Dominate Avatar Races
Well, just speaking brain-to-computer...
MIT Ampli Blocks Build Biomedical Devices
Damn it Spock, I'm a doctor not an engineer!
UberAIR Asks For Skytaxi Landing Prototypes
You know you want to ride in one.
Boring Tunnel Almost Ready
Your underground future is calling!
Handheld Human Skin Printer
It outputs a thin wad of uniflesh.
Healthy Fast Food Courtesy Of Robot Chefs
'The electric cook was stirring empty nothing in a pan, with a zeal worthy a dozen eggs.'
Mass Production Of In Vitro Meat From One Sample
They're Assimilating Our Culture, That's What They're Doing
Amazing 'Hybrid' Solar-Powered Sea Slug Does Photosynthesis
Thank goodness for Star Trek.
Retinal Prosthesis Uses Organic Printing Inks
We can rebuild you - well, your eyes, maybe.
Should You Submit Your DNA To A Database?
Consumer DNA services are often inaccurate.
Squid-Like Robots Soon To Be 3D Printable
'It was a chemotactic artificial jellyfish designed to slither...'
Humans Evolve Deep Diving Abilities
Sounds like '60s sci-fi to me.
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories