Of the many obstacles preventing manned travel to Mars, spending over a year weightless ranks as one of the biggest. Extended weightlessness degrades the muscles and bones of astronauts so thoroughly that by the time they get to Mars, they may not have the strength to walk on it.
However, a new study suggests that artificial gravity may help solve the problem. The study involved fifteen healthy men spending three weeks doing nothing but lying in bed, a level of inactivity that mimics weightlessness. (It's also a level of inactivity that mimics freelance blogging, but I digress.)
Half of the men took a whirl in a NASA centrifuge for an hour every day. The centrifuge produced two and a half times the regular strength of gravity on Earth, and that was enough to stave off the muscle deterioration seen in the other members of the experiment.
Ok, so the ship that goes to Mars will have to have a centrifuge workout room. Now that the weightlessness problem is solved, someone needs to get on that pesky cosmic ray radiation issue.
[via Scientific American]
I'm a novice Physicist at best and I do like the centrifuge idea but I had another thought. Why not just run a huge electromagnet the length of the ship or part of the ship? Run the current in a manner to where the magnetic field would create a downward force. Small metal plates distributed throughout a blue jump suit would feel the attraction and pull down on the astronaut(simulating gravity). If you made the plates small enough and the magnet strong enough, couldn't you amplify the magnets strength to deflect at least some cosmic radiation? One device solving two issues. I realize this could interfere with certain electronics or disrupt hard drives but there are fixes for that. As for a power source, either solar or a "small" submarine nuke plant if the ships current power output isn't sufficient.
- As for the ship blowing up and releasing radioactive material...not as big of deal if it blows up in space just need to make sure to triple check the shuttles before launch.
Interesting idea conquerall but then the astronauts would be relegated to wearing full suits at all times for 1.5 + years. I'll pass.
An entire-ship encompassing electromagnetic field would be able to deflect the radiation but would clearly take up large quantities of power.
Do flying saucers spin to create artificial gravity? How about the centrifuge on the Bebop in Cowboy Bebop or in 2001 or 2010?
If fyling saucers made artifcial gracity it would be horizontal. I would have to rely on the centripital force. The movie Mission to Mars has a cool idea with a spinning section of the ship that makes artifical gravity. Im pretty sure water is a really good protection from radiation. I think its the hydrogen. Looks like NASA migh be able to send someone to mars in our lifetimes. If the guy from Virgin Moble dosent get the idea in his head first lol.
Centrifuge yes, but pictured is a poor design. Better would be a self-balancing double doughnut unit that uses water as a counter balance. The sleep chamber would consist of a dry cylindrical chamber inside a water-filled one, both rotating around the same axis. Smaller, simpler versions of this technology have been attached to truck tires to self-balance them. I first saw one at an auto convention at least thirty years ago. As the cylindrical doughnut rotates, the mass of the astronaut displaces an equal mass of water in the outer shell, naturally eliminating any wobble. This also allows the sleep chamber to be part of water storage, achieving multiple uses.
well you could go nakey GTO if you don't want to wear a suit lol
haha that is not what I meant Conquer. What I mean is that there currently arent any viable options to shield humans from the intense radiation of space. armoring the whole ship would add so much weight and individual suits would be incredibly uncomfortable over the long haul.
I like the centrifuge idea, and since your in it while asleep, and water is a good shield to the cosmic rays, why not sleep pods with water jackets around them, inside a section of the ship or a room of the ship that will spin?
You could also route the water supply through between the interior and exterior hulls, along the lines of a submarine that's diving
Their gonna put a Gravitron on a space shuttle? I thought Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke essentially solved this problem in 2001 a space odyssey. And I don't really get how sleeping in a centrifuge builds muscle mass, I would think you'd need to be somewhat active in a simulated gravity environment, not just sleeping and getting sucked to the floor, but what do I know?
bdhoro87- Apparently you know nothing. The centrifuge doesn't build muscle mass, the artificial gravity stops muscle deterioration.
conquerall: There's some inherent problems in your idea, one of which is that while magnetic attraction would simulate "weight" it would still not simulate actual gravity in the same manner as centrifugal force does. Muscle and bone tissue is not affected by magnetic forces, thus it will not stimulate any tissue growth either.
Another, far more serious problem, is that being exposed to a strong magnetic field for longer periods can play havoc with your nervous system, not to mention all the on-board electronics.
I thought muscles deteriorate because they're not being used, since its so easy to get around with no gravity... sleeping in artificial gravity is gonna stop that?
that thing looks super badass. kinda like the spinner at the amusement park! i always get sick on that ride! ha
Dane619, that picture IS a spinner from an amusement park. Look at the link associated with it under the picture.
@bdhoro87 @AMP13: The centrifuge is mainly to keep bones from degrading/shrinking. Working out your muscles is still required to keep them from degrading. Astronauts work out every day! The great thing about the ideas from 2001 or Mission to Mars is the fact that their design allows people to move about freely (like on earth.) Therefore protecting bones with 'gravity,' and using normal functions for all muscles; it's more like your body cant tell you're not on Earth... I would hate to have to spin on a centrifuge and workout at the same time though, even if it is more compact and feasible than the movies!
@highdobb: One problem with the "2001" and the "Mission to Mars" setups. Coriolis force and differences in centripetal force.
The "wheel" was in both movies approximately 25m [r=12,5m] across (maybe less, in fact). The formula for centripetal force is F=mrw^2, thus if a mass of 100kg generates an F of 9810N in standard G=9,81m/s^2 the angular velocity [w] would be w=SQRT(F/mr) -> ~2,8rad/s => 160 degrees/s to generate one standard G.
The problems here would be threefold. First of all, your head would feel definitely lighter than your feet.
Second, walking against the movement of the toroid would make you feel lighter while walking along the movement would make you feel heavier.
And third, handling objects, especially heavier ones would become a tricky business as their weight would vary depending on what "height" you were carrying them, never mind their kinetic inertia. Remember, a body is always moving along a straight line unless an external force is applied to them. Thus, if you dropped something from a height of 1 meter, the object would land several meters behind you!
For a space station of sufficient size, generating a "gravity" of sorts for the living quarters might be feasible, given a toroid large enough. But for a space-ship sized vessel, the differentials in momentum and inertia would soon become unbearable both physically and psychologically.
That's why I think it might be a good idea to apply the principle to sleeping quarters alone, where you are mostly lying down instead of standing upright.
Gravity is key but not the way they show in that picture.
The Earth Craft would have gravity every where you go in it.
I am still working on the Earth Craft idea witch would replace the ISS and the way to Mars. It will take a bit of time but as soon as I figure out the gravity thing the rest will fall into place.