Japan plans artificial gravity buildings for Mars and the Moon
Image credit: Kajima Corporation
Japanese researchers have proposed an artificial-gravity facility design that could help reduce health risks for humans living in outer space.
Researchers from Kyoto University and Kajima Corporation have proposed constructing artificial-gravity buildings to enable human settlements on Mars and the Moon.
The design of the facilities features huge rotating structures that would create the effect of Earth-like gravity through centripetal force.
The proposals follow a study published earlier this month which found astronauts suffered significant bone loss, while in low-gravity environments. A year after returning to Earth, the astronauts in the study had only recovered half of the bone loss, raising concerns about the health risks humans would face when travelling to other planets.
To solve this problem, the researchers have proposed building a living facility on the Moon called Lunar Glass. The cylindrical architecture is 100 metres wide and up to 400 metres high. It completes a full rotation once every 20 seconds, generating 1G of gravity where the radius is the largest, which is equivalent to that experienced on Earth.
The multi-storey surfaces of the rotating buildings are surrounded by liquid water and land with trees, creating a mini-biome with water and carbo cycles to sustain human populations.
The researchers have shared 3D-renderings of Lunar Glass, designed by SIC Human Spaceology Centre at Kyoto University. They have also proposed building a similar facility called Mars Glass is proposed for Mars and an interplanetary transportation system that maintains Earth-like gravity en route called the Hexatrack system.
“There is no plan like this in other countries’ space development plans,” said Yosuke Yamashiki, director of the SIC Human Spaceology Centre. "Our plan represents important technologies crucial to ensuring human beings will be able to move to space in the future."
The Moon's gravitational force is about 16.6 per cent that of Earth's, while Mars' is closer to 38 per cent of the gravitational force of the Blue Planet.
Rotational simulated gravity has already been used in high-g centrifuges to train astronauts and aviators. However, although science-fiction films including Elysium and Interstellar feature rotating spacecraft, no existing spacecraft has yet been designed to simulate gravity.
“Developing an artificial gravity residential facility with Kyoto University will be a watershed moment in space research,” said Takuya Ohno, an architect and researcher at Kajima. “We will work to make this joint research meaningful for humankind.”
The researchers are expecting constructing the full-size facilities to take around 100 years, although they hope to build a simplified version on the Lunar Glass by 2050.
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