Scientists Came Up With A Feasible Plan For An Elevator Connecting The Moon And The Earth
Aadhya Khatri - Sep 19, 2019
In their paper in August, Zephyr Penoyre and Emily Sandson, two astrophysicists details a 322,000 kilometer-long elevator connecting the two planets
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Recently, scientists have created a plan to build an elevator that connects the Moon and the Earth; in other words, a Spaceline for our home and its natural satellite.
In their paper in August, Zephyr Penoyre and Emily Sandson, two astrophysicists from the University of Cambridge and Columbia University, details a way for us to build a 322,000 kilometer-long elevator that secured to the Moon and will dangle into the gravitational field of the Earth.
We will talk about the method later but first, let’s find out why we want such a thing constructed. The most convincing reason is that it is, to some extent, affordable. The cost of building an elevator like that can be covered by one billionaire.
When the construction is done, that Spaceline will draw energy from the Sun to operate. For now, we are sending supplies by loading them on a spaceship, fly the probe to our Space station, and then to the Moon. With this project in place, the whole process will require just a fraction of the cost. The new method can also ensure a soft landing on the Moon.
The U.S government is planning to build shops on our only natural satellite to facilitating sending human to Mars, so an elevator is likely a revolutionary idea.
The concept of an elevator connecting the Moon and the Earth is not new. Another similar plan is to use a long nanofiber cable (it is so far, impossible) with one end tied to a counterweight in the Earth’s gravity, and the other stretches towards the Moon.
According to Sandson and Penoyre, with today’s technology, the above plan is unfeasible, as it is now impossible to make a strong enough line to handle our planet’s gravity but is still long enough to cover the vast distance between the Moon and the Earth:
“Classic space elevators are supported by centrifugal forces, and thus require a large counterweight beyond geostationary orbit to counteract Earth’s gravitational pull. These competing forces put the cable in a large amount of tension, and even when the cable has a tapered profile (which minimizes the tension), there is a large weight of cable close to the Earth which experiences huge gravitational forces.”
The two astrophysicists have done the needed math and concluded that with our current technology, making an elevator and let it dangle in the Earth’s atmosphere is possible. Here is what they wrote in the study:
“A cable which only hangs into Earth’s gravitational well need not be thick or massive. It is optimal to make it as thin as possible as it extends closer to Earth. This means that the gravitational forces the cable feels, and thus the tension, is much reduced.”
What surprises people the most about this concept is that the team has done all the calculations necessary to prove the feasibility of the idea. According to Sandson and Penoyre, we have been hindering ourselves for decades for not seeing this as something we can actually make:
“We present the derivations herein as a full standalone mathematical and physical description of the concept, one that we and authors before us have been surprised to find is eminently plausible and may have been overlooked as a major step in the development of our capacity as a species to move within our solar system.”
If this Spaceline can make it to reality, human will enter a new age of prosperity. It is more than just an elevator to the Moon; it is a space version of the railroad technology’s advent.