GS Paper 3:
Topics Covered: Science and technology.
China has built an artificial moon research facility that is capable of lowering the gravity level using magnetism.
- The research facility is scheduled to officially launch later this year.
- This research facility is also said to be the first of its kind in the world.
Objective of the project:
The idea is to make gravity “disappear” by using powerful magnetic fields inside a 60cm vacuum chamber.
About the mini moon:
- The mini-moon is about two feet in diameter and the artificial surface has been made with rocks and dust.
- The facility is located in the eastern city of Xuzhou, in Jiangsu province.
Uses, applications and benefits of this facility:
- China plans to use this research facility to test out instruments and technology in a low-gravity environment similar to that of the moon, and see whether its experiments can be successful on the lunar surface.
- The research facility is also expected to help in determining the possibility of human settlement on the moon.
The idea to develop artificial moon facility has its roots in the Russian-born physicist Andre Geim’s experiments to levitate a frog with a magnet. The physicists later won a Nobel for this groundbreaking experiment.
Magnetic levitation is certainly not the same as antigravity, but there is a variety of situations where mimicking microgravity by magnetic fields could be invaluable to expect the unexpected in space research.
The principle behind this:
Atoms are made up of atomic nuclei and tiny electrons that orbit them in little loops of current; these moving currents, in turn, induce tiny magnetic fields.
- Usually, the randomly oriented magnetic fields of all the atoms in an object, whether they belong to a drop of water or a frog, cancel out, and no material-wide magnetism manifests.
- Apply an external magnetic field to those atoms, however, and everything changes: The electrons will modify their motion, producing their own magnetic field to oppose the applied field.
- If the external magnet is strong enough, the magnetic force of repulsion between it and the field of the atoms will grow powerful enough to overcome gravity and levitate the object — whether it’s an advanced piece of lunar tech or a confused amphibian — into the air.
Not just an artificial moon but China has successfully created an “artificial sun” which is a nuclear fusion reactor that superheated to a temperature five times hotter than the sun and for over 17 minutes. This artificial sun will eventually help create the source of near-unlimited clean energy to power cities.
Sources: Indian Express.