The US is not the only country that wants to go back to the Moon. China is also planning future Moon missions to rival NASA’s efforts – and it’s even researching and building a research facility that simulates a low-gravity environment. on the moon.
Chinese researchers are developing a facility that can simulate the gravity of the Moon’s surface, the South China Morning Post reports. The artificial moon will be a vacuum chamber that uses strong magnetic fields to recreate the low-gravity environment.
It is expected to be built in a few months. Once fully operational, it will make gravity “disappear” or “last as long as you like,” said Li Ruilin, a geotechnical engineer at the China University of Mines and Technology.
Currently, simulating low gravity on Earth requires flying in an airplane to a certain height and then conducting a free fall for several minutes.
The developers of this project explain that the new Moon simulator, which is a machine containing a vacuum chamber, contains a small “Moon” measuring only 60 cm in diameter – it can simulate simulate low-gravity or zero-gravity for as long as you like, and are large enough for researchers to test a number of instruments and instruments to see how they respond to the Moon’s low-gravity environment.
Inside the simulated “room”, they created an artificial Moon landscape, made up of rock and dust as light as those found on the surface of the Moon.
The Moon’s gravity is one-sixth as strong as Earth’s, and inside the artificial gravity chamber, the team used strong magnetic fields to simulate the “flying effect” of low gravity.
The concept of using a magnetic field to levitate came from Russian physicist Andre Geim, who won the 2000 Ig Nobel Prize for building a frog float.
Geim works at the University of Manchester and won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics for the work he did in creating graphene.
China has set a goal of sending astronauts to the Moon by 2030 and establishing a base on the Moon, in a joint project with Russia later this decade.
It is expected that this artificial moon will play an important role in future missions to the Moon, allowing scientists to plan and prepare for construction in low-gravity conditions.