Artificial Gravity Augmentation on the Moon and Mars

by Lex Schultheis, Johns Hopkins Medical Inst, Balto, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Space III


Extended visits to the moon and Mars will require a base on the surface. Exploration of small planetary neighbors will depend upon the development of a life support system that prevents pathological effects of reduced gravity on the body. Preliminary experience with weightlessness in low Earth orbit suggests that low gravity environments are associated with progressive loss of bone mineral and cardiovascular deconditioning. Although the physiology of lunar and martian colonists will eventually adapt for their new environment, they will most likely be physically unfit to return to Earth. One method of augmenting gravity is a extraterrestrial railroad. A vehicle on a circular track banked with respect to the horizon creates centripetal accelerations related to the speed of the vehicle and the diameter of the track. Incremental accentuation of gravity may be accomplished by switching the vehicle to a track of larger diameter and steeper bank. Rotation creates accelerations on the vestibular canals of the inner ear that will limit the angular velocity of the vehicle. Colonists would have the opportunity to work part of each day in simulated Earth gravity and easily access the planet's surface. The magnitude of gravity that will protect us is unknown, as is the frequency and duration of exposure. This must be investigated. An extraterrestrial railroad, as one solution to this problem, does not involve exotic technology and is readily expanded. If we truly plan to explore our nearest neighbors, supplementation of local gravity merits serious consideration if we are to return home.

Subject Headings: Mars | Moon | Space life support systems | Space exploration | Rail transportation | Vehicles | Space colonies | Public health and safety

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