Published on: October 28, 2016
By Ismail Adil
Gravity therapy machine or and heavy spacesuit for beyond earth settlements.
Low gravitational fields on the Moon and Mars are one of the crucial challenges for space settlement plans. Staying for long duration’s with less than one g force may cause serious health problems, such as space adaptation syndrome, bone and muscle deterioration, fluid redistribution and disruption of senses. Also other difficulties can be caused by exposure to weightlessness and low gravity environment for longer periods. On Earth, all life forms have been evolved under constant gravitational field for over three and half billions years, thus our bodies have been perfectly adapted to this environment.
Establishing a space colony will be costly, extremely difficult and hazardous. Even in our solar system’s habitable zone settlement, we will face great challenges such as absence of water and oxygen, extreme temperature fluctuations, exposure of solar and gamma radiation, micro meteoroids collision, lack of proper atmospheric pressure conditions as well as low-gravity environment. In addition, there will be other serious physiological and psychological factors as well. Today, we are finding ways to solve some of these problems and here, two applicable concepts to overcome the low gravitational field problem for beyond earth settlements are discussed.
One of the approaches to tackle the low gravitational field problem for a Lunar base or Mars colony or any other space settlement on asteroids, is to keep an Inflatable rotating space station near their low orbit. The aim is to create an exact one g at the edge by the centripetal force from the rotating space station. Reason for this rotating space station to keep on their orbit rather than a ground based system is to neglect friction and to work energy efficiently. At early stages, it is not necessary to build a gigantic one; rather it’s size depends on the size of the population who lives in the colony or the village. This rotating space station is not a living habitat and its primary purpose is to use as a Gravity therapy machine for the population to live a healthy life in a low-gravity environment.
Every individual who stays for a longer duration (time specified) on the village or the colony must visit this Gravity therapy machine repeatedly and stays for a pre set time to feel one g to overcome health issues caused by lack of proper gravitational pull to their bodies during the time they spent on the village or the colony and even on the space travel mission. It must be mandatory for everyone who lives in the space settlement to make this visit to the machine to stay healthy. This process has to be continuous and consistent. Each group of inhabitants visit the Gravity Therapy Machine by flying on a small rocket-type vessel and in future a huge Gravity therapy machine can be placed on areostationary orbit of Mars and a space elevator can be used as a transportation system in between surface of the Mars and the Gravity therapy machine, to work this more effectively.
Another possible method to overcome low gravitational pull is to wear a specially designed heavy spacesuit (extra extended-mass spacesuit). It’s mass depends on the location of your settlement and weight. If your weight is about 65 kg on Earth it would weigh only 24.5 kg on Mars, so on Mars you have to wear about 148 kg heavy spacesuit to get same weight as earth’s gravitational field provides. Such a spacesuit can be designed like an exoskeleton to wear on top of your normal spacesuit or it can be a part of your regular spacesuit. This special heavy spacesuit has to be designed in a way to distribute its mass equivalently to feel weight effectively and this suit has to be made out of dense and stable materials with high melting point to be used efficiently in harsh environments.
Building an inflatable rotating wheel space station or a spacecraft is not a new idea and such ideas were hypothesized for quite some time. Small rotating space station on orbit of a space settlement such as the Moon or the Mars, to use as “Gravity Therapy Machine” might work effectively to solve low gravitational field problems along with the heavy spacesuit and exercise rowing machines for an up-coming space settlement era. In future, with the help of these concepts, people may easily get adapted to Martian environment without serious health issues in a less period of time. We have concerns about low gravitational field problem and its consequences, and without solving this problem, it might be impossible for human and other living things to survive and to sustain for a longer duration in space and even to establish a space colony.