Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fly Gundam!

I was watching an episode of 0080: war in the pocket. I noticed the space colonies were rotating. The different sections had different rotational speeds.

With further research I found out that many of these colonies are called O'Neill cylinders. One the first designs was "island one" a sphere with a diameter of 1.609km (804.5m). So to find the velocity at which the colony would have to rotate is using F= m(vsquared/r) to get 88.8 m/s. Another design calls for a cylinder rotating in different sections at different speeds. There is even an outer ring that rotates at various speeds for farming. In Gundam, the cylinders probably rotate way faster than 88.8 m/s since the rotation is too fast (for visual effect). Interestingly, in Rendezvous with Rama the object being explored also seems to be an O'Neill cylinder except without the mirrors and windows (needed for light).

These cylinders would need to be placed at Lagrange points. These points would allow a colony (only affected by gravity) to remain stationary between two objects, say the moon and earth. <> wikipedia includes some ways to calculate the five Lagrange points. This is demonstrative of center of mass, it being essential. However this is no longer a uniform circular movement since the objects take elliptical paths.

A large problem that confronts space exploration is the effect that radiation in space will have on colonists/explorers. At the scale of the O'Neill cylinder however, the air and the steel (perhaps another metal) hull will be sufficient protection.

Personally I can't wait for space colonies.. there's just something so enticing about space.

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