China’s Artificial Moon

After China’s artificial Sun reached temperatures five times hotter than the Sun, China is ready with its first artificial moon. Scientists have built an “artificial moon” research facility. The facility will help them in conducting low-gravity environments using magnetism.

Artificial moon research facility

The artificial moon research facility is scheduled for official launch in the year 2022. It will use powerful magnetic fields inside a vacuum chamber of 2-foot-diameter, for making gravity disappear. To develop this research facility, scientists were inspired by a previous experiment, in which magnets were used to levitate a frog.

How will this facility mimic moon’s surface?

The research facility will be filled with rocks and dust to resemble it with the lunar surface.

Features of the research facility

It is first of its kind research facility in the world. It is capable of maintaining low-gravity conditions for as long as scientists want.

What is the use of this facility?

Scientists have planned to use this facility to test technology in prolonged low-gravity environments, before sending it to the moon, where gravity is one-sixth of Earth’s gravity. This experiment will help scientists to resolve technical issues and test whether some structures will survive on the moon’s surface. It will also help in assess viability of human settlement on the moon.

Impact and creep tests

Scientists will conduct impact and creep tests in the research facility. Impact test will require few seconds in simulator while creep test will take some time. Creep test is conducted to measure how a material will deform under constant temperature and stress.

How Chinese scientists got inspired to develop this facility?

Chinese scientists got inspired to develop this facility from “Andre Geim”, who is a physicist at University of Manchester in U.K. He won “satirical Ig Nobel Prize in 2000” for conducting an experiment in which a frog was made to float with a magnet. The levitation trick used in his experiment comes from an effect dubbed as “diamagnetic levitation”. Same trick is being used in “Artificial Moon research facility”.

What is diamagnetic levitation?

Atoms consists of atomic nuclei and electrons orbiting around them in loops of current. These moving currents induce magnetic fields. Usually, randomly oriented magnetic fields of all the atoms of an object cancel out, and no material-wide magnetism is evident. With the application of external magnetic field to these atoms, electrons modify their motion and produces their own magnetic field to oppose the external magnetic field. If the applied external field is strong, magnetic force of repulsion & field of the atoms becomes powerful to overcome gravity and levitate the object into the air. This phenomenon is called as diamagnetic levitation.

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