Science Questions

Can a rotating ship simulate gravity?

Fri, 25th Feb 2011

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Question

Paul Young asked:

If we are to make extended human trips into space ie to Mars or even further - one idea to ensure humans survive zero gravity conditions was to have a space ship that revolved and that would create artificial gravity. I thought gravity was related to the mass of a body not whether it revolved or not?

 

Can you please explain that for me?

 

Thanks

 

Paul

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Paul Young asked the Naked Scientists: Hi   Paul from Woldingham   Was just wondering about gravity...   If we are to make extended human trips into space ie to Mars or even further - one idea to ensure humans survive zero gravity conditions was to have a space ship that revolved and that would create artificial gravity. I thought gravity was related to the mass of a body not whether it revolved or not?   Can you please explain that for me?   Thanks   Paul What do you think? Paul Young , Sun, 6th Feb 2011

You are correct in saying that gravity is a function of the mass of a body. An astronaut in a spacecraft will be attracted to parts of the craft by gravity. The problem is that the mass of the craft is very small compared to Earth, so the force is almost negligible. Also, because the astronaut is inside the spacecraft, some of the attractive forces will cancel out and reduce the net effect even more.

Rotating the spacecraft will produce an artificial form of gravity because of the reaction to centripetal force, but it does not seem to be practical to rotate the entire craft. However, it does seem to be practical to have a rotating chamber inside a spacecraft where astronauts can experience the effects of artificial gravity.

Geezer, Sun, 6th Feb 2011

Also, an issue with the rotating spacecraft is that it's rotating you to mimic gravity.  The gravitational force pulling things towards the "ground" in that ship is to tiny to matter, so if you throw objects within the ship, they won't quite behave as they would under the earth's gravity. jpetruccelli, Mon, 7th Feb 2011

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