Will you miss gravity on your way to Mars?
A long mission to Mars currently requires a long journey on-board of a spaceship. Weightlessness imposes some physiological changes on the human body including: bone loss, cardio-vascular perturbations and, muscles deterioration. It also affects the astronaut’s sense of orientation and consequently can generate a lot of stress.
These clinical changes in the human body could affect the astronaut’s health, affect the crew performance and could potentially jeopardize the mission.
How would the centripetal force help humans in space?
Aside of daily exercise for the crew, it may be possible to generate gravity in space with centripetal force, with a rotating system. The Force felt by the astronaut’s body depends on the rotation rate of the system and the distance of the body from the rotation axis. It is possible to generate various gravity levels and therefore the gravity level on different planets or celestial bodies can be simulated. For example, the astronaut could experience the gravity level of the Moon, Mars or Earth.
The artificial gravity generated by rotation has two major disadvantages. Firstly, depending on the configuration of the rotating system, some parts of the astronaut’s body are exposed differently to the gravity. Secondly, the Coriolis Effect disturbs astronaut’s movement by affecting trajectories. For example, similar to being on a carousel, it is very difficult to walk “straight”.
The rotating system design must be the result of trading between physiological needs, rotation rate, radius, and Coriolis Effect. The cost also has a significant impact on the design. Ideally a large rotating system will reduce most disadvantages of the rotation, imagine a giant rotating wheel in space like in a Sci-Fi movie. Unfortunately, the construction of such a spacecraft requires a large amount of money and consequently a large amount of energy.
Otherwise, the crew could be exposed periodically to simulated gravity in a smaller devise. In the movie, 2001: A space Odyssey (1968) by Stanley Kubrick, the crew are placed in a rotating wheel while they are sleeping.
The human body is perfectly adapted to life on Earth. A long journey in space will transform humans in a new way. Could it be a part of natural evolution?
Because we are all Born For Space!