Gravity. We don’t pay much attention to it until it becomes a problem or part of our jobs. Weight lifters, engineers, and extreme sports enthusiasts are probably the ones who are the most aware of it on a daily basis. The rest of us go on about our day moving around on the ground like any other day. Recently though, gravity, and the need for it in space, has been thrust upon the general public in several movies including “Martian”, “Passengers” and “The Space Between Us”. All three of these movies describe in great detail why gravity in space is such a necessity and what would happen without it.
Why is gravity in space so important and what would happen without it?
Humans have evolved on Earth with Earth’s gravity for roughly the past 65,000 years. As a result our bodies reproduce, grow, and age to compensate for this gravitational pull. If the gravitational pull is changed even by a small amount our bodies would not grow the same way. That means, if gravity is taken away, like when you live in space, then our bodies would not grow or maintain themselves the same way. Now that we are trying to go to Mars, we are going to have to find a way to create gravity in space to keep us healthy.
- Fighting against the pull of gravity, our muscles, including our hearts, grow stronger and denser.
- Giving our muscles the structure they need to fight against gravity causes our bones to be stronger and denser.
- Pushing the blood through our bodies is more difficult, especially when trying to keep the pressure the same. This causes our veins and arteries to be the size we need to accommodate that pressure.
- Every organ is affected by the blood. It is the transportation system for different hormones and nutrients needed to keep the organs healthy so the blood would have to have the correct amount of fluid to account for Earth’s gravity.
All of these, and probably more particular concerns, must be considered when engineers and scientists attempt to create a model to create gravity in space that will match Earth’s gravity. Otherwise there would be serious health problems that could cause all kinds of other health problems like dominoes falling.
If the problem is so obvious, why haven’t we created gravity in space?
Scientists and engineers have been working on this very problem for decades. Maybe that is why movies that includes the need for gravity in space go all the way back to the 70’s. These movies show the problem, not just an unseen solution like Star Wars or Star Trek. But just because the problem is obvious, doesn’t mean the solution is easy.
- How do we test a theory without being able to create space like conditions on Earth?
- How do we create a model in space without a working theory?
- Where will the materials come from to make a model?
- How will we get all the materials needed to make a model into space?
- How much will all of this cost and who will pay for it?
We have tried to answer some of these questions. We have built models to try to imitate the physics of how gravity in space would have to work. The current model has been in movies: the rotation of a space station. The model created more questions than it answered, but it gave us a reference to work with for the other questions mentioned above.
Tune in next time and we will tell you all about our progress towards creating gravity in space!