Archive for January 21st 2013

Here’s an interesting way to simulate Mars gravity:

I’ve been puzzling over this myself recently as I try to finish my first SF novel; it’s set on Vesta, where gravity is approximately 4% of that on Earth. That’s enough to be annoying but not enough to be useful.

Walking relies on gravity, leaning forward to move your legs, so on very low gravity worlds it would be problematic. A bounding run should work, but could be difficult to control.

Wheels would work, but can only put as much power down as the friction between wheel and ground allows. Since the gravity is much lower, the friction will also be much lower, so you won’t be able to accelerate or brake rapidly.

A railway — probably a monorail — seems potentially effective; if the wheels are forced against the rail, there should be enough grip to allow rapid acceleration and deceleration.

Hovercraft seem sensible, since little power would be required to counteract the low weight of the vehicle, and then it can be propelled by ducted fans or similar as though it was in microgravity in free space.

Moving walkways could work, and would likely be a sensible approach for speeds between slow walk and bounding run. If friction between feet and walkway isn’t enough, a railing could pass the force through, even if it would probably be uncomfortable.

More high-tech, some kind of nano-assisted material for soles and tires could help them cling to the ground and at least help with the friction problems.

I’m still trying to think of a sensible solution for movement on these kind of worlds which doesn’t come with a large number of downsides.