Artificial gravity: from Kubrick's Space Odyssey to antiparticle

Problems with the vestibular system are not the only consequence of prolonged stay in conditions

microgravity. Astronauts who spend more than a month on the ISS often suffer from sleep disturbances, slow cardiovascular function, and flatulence.

NASA recently completed an experiment duringwhom scientists compared the genome of twin brothers: one of them spent almost a year on the ISS, the other made only short flights and spent most of the time on Earth. Long-term stay in space led to the fact that 7% of the DNA of the first astronaut changed forever - we are talking about genes associated with the immune system, bone formation, oxygen starvation and excess carbon dioxide in the body.

NASA compared twin astronauts to see how the human body changes in space

In microgravity conditions, a person will be forceddo nothing: we are not talking about astronauts staying on the ISS, but about flights into deep space. To find out how such a regime would affect the health of astronauts, the European Space Agency (ESA) put 14 volunteers in a bed tilted to the side of the head for 21 days. An experiment that will test the latest methods of combating weightlessness, such as improved exercise and nutrition regimens, is planned to be jointly conducted by NASA and Roscosmos.

But if people decide to send ships to Mars or Venus, more extreme solutions will be needed - artificial gravity.

How gravity can exist in space

First of all, it is worth understanding that gravity exists everywhere - in some places it is weaker, in others it is stronger. And outer space is no exception.

The ISS and satellites are under constant influencegravity: if an object is in orbit, it falls around the Earth, to put it simply. A similar effect occurs if you throw a ball forward - before it hits the ground, it will fly a little in the direction of the throw. If you throw the ball harder, it will fly further. If you are Superman, and the ball is a rocket engine, it will not fall to the ground, but will fly around it and continue to rotate, gradually entering orbit.

Microgravity assumes that people inside the ship are not in the air - they fall from the ship, and that, in turn, falls around the Earth.

Due to the fact that gravity is a forceattraction between two masses, we remain on the surface of the Earth when we walk on it, rather than floating into the sky. In this case, the entire mass of the Earth attracts the mass of our bodies to its center.


When ships go into orbit, they are freefloat in outer space. They are still subject to the gravitational pull of the Earth, but the ship and the objects or passengers in it are subject to gravity in the same way. Existing devices are not massive enough to create a noticeable attraction, so people and objects in them do not stand on the floor, but “float” in the air.

How to create artificial gravity

Artificial gravity as such is notexists, in order to create it, a person needs to learn everything about natural gravity. In science fiction, there is the concept of simulating gravity: it allows the crew of spaceships to walk on the deck and objects to stand on it.

In theory, there are two ways to create an imitationgravity, and none of them have yet been used in real life. The first is the use of centripetal force to simulate gravity. The ship or station must be a wheel-like structure consisting of several constantly rotating segments.

According to this concept, centripetalthe acceleration of the apparatus, pushing the modules towards the center, will create a semblance of gravity or conditions similar to those of the earth. This concept was demonstrated in the 2001 Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick and in the Interstellar movie by Christopher Nolan.

The concept of a device that creates centripetal acceleration to simulate gravity

The author of this project is considered to be German.Rocket scientist and engineer Werner von Braun, who led the development of the Saturn-5 rocket, which delivered the Apollo 11 crew and several other manned vehicles to the moon.

As director of the Space Flight CenterMarshall NASA, von Braun popularized the idea of ​​the Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky to create a toroidal space station based on a hub-like construction resembling a bicycle wheel. If the wheel rotates in space, then inertia and centrifugal force can create a kind of artificial gravity that pulls objects toward the outer circumference of the wheel. This will allow people and robots to walk on the floor, like on Earth, and not to float in the air, like on the ISS.

However, this method has significantdisadvantages: the smaller the spacecraft, the faster it must rotate - this will lead to the emergence of the so-called Cornolis force, in which points located further from the center will be influenced by gravity more than those closer to it. In other words, gravity will be stronger on the astronauts' heads than on their legs, which they won't like.

To avoid this effect, the ship sizeshould be several times the size of a football field - putting such a device into orbit will be extremely expensive, given that the cost of one kilogram of cargo during commercial launches varies from $1.5 thousand to $3 thousand.

Another method of creating imitation gravity is morepractical, but also extremely expensive - this is an acceleration method. If the ship at a certain segment of the path will first accelerate, and then turn around and begin to slow down, then the effect of artificial gravity will arise.

To implement this method you will needcolossal fuel reserves - the fact is that the engines must operate almost continuously, with the exception of a short break in the middle of the journey - during the turn of the ship.

Real examples

Despite the high cost of launching gravity-simulating spacecraft, companies around the world are trying to build such ships and stations.

Implement the concept of Background Brown is tryingGateway Foundation is a research foundation that plans to build a rotating station in Earth orbit. It is assumed that the circumference of the wheel will be located capsules that will be able to buy public and private aerospace companies for research. Some capsules will be sold as villas to the richest inhabitants of the earth, while others will be used as hotels for space tourists.

The docking bay will be located in the center of the station - from there people and cargo will be delivered by elevator to the capsule.

The company chose the method of raising moneyambiguous: she intends to organize a lottery, the winners of which, in addition to a monetary reward, will have the opportunity to fly to the station for free and spend the night in its capsule. The company does not disclose when the device will be launched into orbit.


On the creation of a device with artificialNASA also used gravity to conduct long-term space research. In 2011, the space agency unveiled the Nautilus-X, a spinning inflatable spacecraft concept that would reduce the effects of microgravity on the scientists on board.

It was assumed that the project will cost only$ 3.7 billion is very small for such devices, and it will take 64 months to build it. However, Nautilus-X did not go beyond the original drawings and proposals.


So far the most likely way to get an imitationgravity, which will protect the ship from the effects of acceleration and provide constant gravity without the need to constantly use engines is to detect a particle with negative mass. Every particle and antiparticle that scientists have ever discovered has positive mass. It is known that negative mass and gravitational mass are equal to each other, but so far researchers have not been able to demonstrate this knowledge in practice.

Researchers from the ALPHA experiment at CERN have alreadyhave created antihydrogen - a stable form of neutral antimatter - and are working to isolate it from all other particles at very low speeds. If scientists manage to do this, it is likely that in the near future artificial gravity will become more real than it is now.