Thursday, December 7

Japan is planning a habitat that defies the laws of gravity. The goal: to colonize Mars

The creation of human colonies in space is at the moment science fiction meat, but that has not prevented us from turning over a good number of theories that we would make life easier on the surface of the Moon or Mars. We’ve been doing it for decades. And we are not bad at all.

We have thought about how to extract water and oxygen, how to get materials and the best way to build ourselves “houses”. We are even growing tomatoes and peppers in the middle of Antarctica, at -40ºC, to learn how to do it one day on the arid surface of our satellite.

Drinking, breathing and eating, having a roof over your head and things to work with are important, of course; but there is another factor just as crucial for life beyond our planet: to achieve a force of gravity similar to that of the Earth that facilitates our existence and does not interfere with our health.

When you think of the first colony on the Moon, do you imagine it with people moving in long strides, like Neil Armstrong, adapting to its peculiar gravity and the reduced attraction of the satellite, or as we millions of people do that we inhabit on Earth?

An idea worthy of science fiction

At the University of Kyoto and the firm Kajima Corp they have been thinking about the subject and have a proposal that seems to be taken from the best and most delusional science fiction book: their idea —because at the moment it is just that: an idea— is to create an artificial gravity habitatextensive facilities in which an attraction similar to the one we enjoy on Earth is recreated.

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That is the genius of the plan that they want to develop in Japan: through a centrifugal force generated by rotation movements, an installation that would help them move in a way not very different from how we do it here, on our planet, when we walk around the street.

This is how architects and engineers imagine life on the Moon

“As space life became more realistic low gravitylike that of the lunar surface, began to be considered a problem, ”reflects Yosuke Yamashiki, director of the Center for Human Spaceology (SIC) at Kyoto University, in a statement explaining that his center and Kajima Construction Co They have decided to investigate how to meet the challenge.

It is not just that the future inhabitants of the Moon or Mars can move comfortably. At stake, SIC emphasizes, may be the very viability of human colonies.

“Without gravity it is possible that mammals are not born successfully. Furthermore, even if they could be born, we cannot expect normal growth in low gravity conditions. When a person grows up in low gravity conditions, he becomes a body that cannot stand on its own on Earth”, they reflect from the Japanese research center.

His statement comes, in fact, shortly after Scientific Reports published an analysis on the effects of microgravity on the muscular and skeletal system of astronauts.

“We propose a ‘artificial gravity habitat’ in space, on the surface of the Moon or on Mars, where the centrifugal force of rotation can be used to generate a gravity equivalent to that of the terrestrial environment. We believe that people should live in the facilities on a daily basis and enjoy the low gravity of the Moon and Mars and the weightlessness of outer space only when they are working, conducting research or for leisure.”

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We are growing plants in Antarctica at -40º C. It depends on its success that we colonize space

To demonstrate how their ideas would be translated into reality, SIC has produced two videos in which a small habitat can be seen with artificial gravity generated by centrifugal force thanks to rotation. “By living in this facility, humans can safely have children and maintain a body that can return to earth at any time,” they say. Apparently perpendicular habitats with vegetation can be seen in the piece… and even a sailboat browsing.

The fact that they have started to investigate does not mean that we will see their solution soon. The Japanese newspaper Asahi It specifies that its promoters work with a long-term horizon, which would go into the XXII. Before, in 2050, yes, they hope that a simplified version can be built on the Moon.

“There is no plan like this in the space development programs of other countries,” stressed Yosuke Yamashjiki, from the SIC, during a conference held just a few days ago.

The idea is ambitiousbut if the Japanese show anything, it is that they are overflowing with ambition and the ability to devise technologies for the space future, as incredible as they may seem.

In addition to Lunar Glass and Mars Glass, the habitats they plan for our satellite and the red planet, as part of their proposal the team proposes a peculiar space transportation system: an artificial gravity train that facilitates communication between the Earth, the Moon and Mars.

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Cover image | Space Innovation Kyoto

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