scientists of the University of Rochester they proposed building cities around asteroids, in what they considered a “tremendously theoretical” study, published in the journal Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences.
According to a report published on the website of mdzthe group of researchers made up of Peter Miklavcic, lead author of the study and doctoral candidate in mechanical engineering, Adam Frank, professor of physics and astronomy, Helen F. and Fred H. Gowen explained their plan to create great cities on celestial bodies rocky.
Frank gave The Expanse series as an example: “Our article lives on the edge of science and science fiction. We are taking a sci-fi idea that has been very popular recently, on TV shows like Amazon’s The Expanse, and offering a new way to use an asteroid to build a city in space.”
An approach based on the O’Neill Cylinders
During the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and its variants, Rochester researchers took up the puzzle of the O’Neill cylinders to make this old NASA plan more profitable.
It was in 1972 that physicist George O’Neill and his team were tasked with creating a plan to build space settlements. There the O’Neill Cylinders were born, which were revolving space metropolises consisting of two cylinders rotating in opposite directions, with a tube connecting the cylinders at each end.
The theory explains that the cylinders would rotate fast enough to provide artificial gravity on their inner surface, but slow enough so that people can live without problems.
The problem with the physicist’s plan was that taking Earth’s building materials into space to create these cities for humans would be expensive as well as difficult.
The Rochester Scientists’ Plan
Miklavcic, the lead author of the research, explained that they soon discovered that asteroids can be used to create cities in space; “All those flying mountains circling the Sun could provide a faster, cheaper and more effective path to space cities.”
Scientists performed calculations of forces, materials, and strategies to build outposts of spinning asteroids. To contain the debris that would inevitably result from forming a cylinder, they believe that encasing an asteroid in a flexible mesh bag made of high-strength, ultralight carbon nanofibers could do the trick.
They would use tubes made of carbon, each a few atoms in diameter. The bag would envelop and support the entire rotating mass of asteroid debris and the habitat it contains, while also supporting its own weight as it spins.
Miklavcic detailed it as follows: “A cylindrical containment bag constructed of carbon nanotubes would be extremely light relative to the mass of the asteroid debris and habitat, yet strong enough to hold everything together.”
While this is just a theory, researchers maintain that physics and mechanics exist to make science fiction a reality. But it is difficult in the short and medium term.