A team of researchers from Japan’s Kyoto University and Kajima Corporation has proposed the construction of massive rotating buildings on the Moon and Mars. The rotation would produce a gravity-like pull, which would be similar to that of Earth and save humans from the health risks associated with interplanetary travel and a stay on planets with different gravity.
Traveling to Mars or Moon sounds super-exciting — but the radiation, dust, and altered gravity on these planets would likely have significant adverse effects on the human body.
For instance, when the Apollo 11 astronauts (the first humans to walk on the moon) returned to Earth, they experienced reduced cardiovascular activity, muscle damage, back pain, and severe loss of bone mass. Moon’s low gravity settings turned the astronauts so weak that their bodies were not even able to withstand their own weight on Earth. Now imagine doing the same thing but for a few years — your body may never recover. But researchers are working on it.
Could buildings with artificial gravity benefit humanity?
Artificial gravity has been a topic in science fiction for a long time, but this is the first time they’re being considered a realistic project.
According to Japanese researchers, by building artificial gravity facilities called the Lunar Glass and Mars Glass on the moon and Mars respectively, human visitors on these planets would be able to experience Earth-like gravity. Although the construction of a full-fledged version of the Glass buildings could take a really long time, scientists hope to establish a basic model of the artificial gravity facility on the moon by 2050.
A fully-developed Lunar Glass will be a cylindrical-shaped rotating building measuring 100 meters in width and 400 meters in height. The total rotation time for Lunar Glass would be 20 seconds and during each rotation, it would produce a gravitational force equal to ‘g’ (Earth’s gravity = 9.81 m/s2) using centrifugal effect (an outward force that is generated due to the motion of a rotating body). Basically, the force created by this motion would replace gravity.
To ensure a human-friendly environment, the rotating building would also be surrounded by water bodies and trees.
“We envision a future in which humankind will make migration to the Moon and Mars a reality in the latter half of the 21st century. By living in this facility, human beings can have children with peace of mind and maintain a body that can return to the earth at any time,” said the researchers in the official press conference.
The impact of altered gravity on human health is one of the biggest yet least discussed challenges related to space travel. It may sound shocking but an astronaut suffering from health problems like the loss of bone mass after traveling to low gravity environments can take more than a year to fully recover.
However, artificial gravity living facilities like the one proposed by the Japanese researcher can not only play a significant role in overcoming such health risks but also enable us to easily establish human colonies on other planets. The technology is still pretty far, but it’s slowly creeping into the realm of reality — like so many other ideas first discussed in science fiction.