Lecture_33 - Space Colonies(Lectures#33-34 Someday perhaps in response to population pressures here on Earth human beings may seek to establish

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-1 Space Colonies (Lectures #33-34)
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Someday, perhaps in response to population pressures here on Earth, human beings may seek to establish permanent homes for themselves elsewhere in the solar system. One possibility is to colonize the surface of another world, like the Moon or Mars. But if we colonize a natural body like a planet or moon, we must take what nature gives us. For example, the planet’s mass and radius determine the strength of its gravity. The planet’s distance from its central star determines the temperatures and the climate. This would only be moderately changed by terraforming the atmosphere. The inclination of the planet’s spin axis would determine the seasons. The planet’s period of rotation would determine the day/night cycle. It may be difficult to find a planet that is truly homelike. In 1969 and 1970 college campuses in the U.S. were turned upside-down by protests inspired by the Vietnam War. At Princeton University, Professor Gerard O’Neill was trying to think of some way to get his very distracted freshman physics class to think about science and technology. So he posed to them an innocent question: Ÿ Is the surface of a planet the best location for an expanding technological civilization? The answers that the class came up with were so surprising that one question led to another, until whole teams were studying this question under the sponsorship of the newly-formed Space Studies Institute at Princeton. The alternative to a planetary colony is a space colony - a floating city in space. In this case, we create and control the environment in harmony with human needs. The idea now is that space is not a void, but should itself be regarded as a logical home for an expanding, technologically advanced society. A space colony is a far cry from a space station . Remember that a space station (like the ISS) is a permanent structure, but crews only live and work there for six-month intervals before they are replaced. A space colony is to be a permanent home for all the people living there, for their entire lives, with generation supplanting generation. The smallest colonies might have ten thousand people, the largest eventually twenty million! Where to Build? You might think that the most logical place to put a space colony would be in LEO, where it could be easily visited and resupplied. But it turns out that there is a much better choice of location: in a very high Earth orbit, precisely as far away as the Moon (400,000 kilometers)!!!
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More precisely, the location we want will be at one of the stable Lagrange points of the Earth-Moon system (see figure below). Some two hundred years ago, the French scientist-mathematician Lagrange found that there were precisely five points in the Earth- Moon system where the pushes and pulls due to the Earth’s gravity, the Moon’s gravity, and centrifugal force all exactly cancelled each other out. This means that a body placed at one of these Lagrange points (labeled L1 through L5) would remain at a fixed
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This note was uploaded on 04/29/2008 for the course APHY 103 taught by Professor Woods during the Fall '08 term at SUNY Albany.

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Lecture_33 - Space Colonies(Lectures#33-34 Someday perhaps in response to population pressures here on Earth human beings may seek to establish

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