Lorentz-Actuated Orbit Spacecraft May Ride Planetary Magnetic Fields

Dr. Mason Peck of Cornell University has received a grant from NASA to further study the possibility of Lorentz-Actuated Orbit spacecraft. Such spacecraft would achieve propulsion without propellants by using planetary magnetic fields.

According to Maxwell's equations, a charged particle moving relative to a magnetic field accelerates in a direction perpendicular to its velocity and the magnetic field. This Lorentz force is known to act on man-made satellites that carry an electrical charge and orbit within a planetary magnetic field.

The key to a usable LAO-orbit spacecraft is providing some sort of self-capacitative structure that can store a suitable electrical charge. The most promising scenario envisions a cylindrical mesh of fibers attached to a spacecraft. The mesh could be charged up using a coating of a radioactive isotope that itself emits charged particles. The Earth's magnetic field would push on the stocking, propelling the spacecraft to a higher orbit and even into interplanetary space. Dr. Peck has proposed a 100 kilogram spacecraft carrying a mesh cylinder with a radius of 41 meters and a length of 4 kilometers.


(Charged 'space stocking' moved by magnetic field)

Other scenarios include the creation of a multi-filament capacitor centering on the spacecraft. Uniformly distributed filaments would bend from Coulomb repulsion (keeps them separated) and Lorentz force (along the qvxB direction). Actual filaments would be virtually invisible and much longer. The highest performing conductive filament is the carbon nanotube.


(Alternative Self-Capacitative Architecture)

Apparently, a new science fiction book is available just this week that takes this idea and runs with it. GRADISIL, by Adam Roberts, makes considerable use of the idea of LAO-orbit spacecraft. According to a review by Starburst "the magnetic boost technologies he uses to put planes into orbit has the smack of an SF trope that’ll become a universal cliché in a few years." I don't think this force is strong enough to put planes into orbit, but it could move spacecraft between space stations in low earth orbit, which seems to be what happens in the novel.

I was unable to find a copy in bookstores, so I don't have a quote. I've pinged the author, but no joy thus far.

If you are interested in recherche spacecraft propulsion technologies, search no further:

Thanks to reader Lou Anders for providing the story idea. For more information, see this interesting paper by Dr. Peck: Prospects and Challenges for Lorentz-Augmented Orbits. Also, see Spacecraft may surf the solar system on magnetic fields.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/15/2007)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Spacecraft ")

Dream Of Building Your Own Rocket?
Fiorello Bodoni, you inspire all of us.

Used Dragon Cargo Spacecraft Will Fly Again
'the overstrained meters made the smaller craft skittish as a young horse...' - Robert Heinlein

Laser-Powered Spacecraft To Explore The Solar System
'Whoever launched it fired a laser cannon... for about forty-five years, so the intruder would have a beam to travel on...'- Niven/Pournelle, 1974.

SKYLON Space Plane Gets Boost
'They were more airplane than spaceship...'- Robert Heinlein, 1951.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

TytoCare Offers Futuristic Home Care
'Immediately an enormous apparatus fell on to her out of the ceiling...'

Powdered Regolith Propulsion
'... filling their great tanks with the finely divided dust which the ionic rockets would spit out in electrified jets.'

Ford's SafeCap, Opposite Of Niven and Barnes' Napcap
'In the napcap a client became an instant yoga master...'

Would You Get 'Chipped'? Michigan May Ban Employers
'Employees above a certain level were implanted with advanced microprocessors...'

Tesla Autopilot: What Does An Autonomous Car See When It Looks At The Road?
'Jeremiah is a sports-model to begin with and that kind is awfully hot-tempered.'

DNA Controls Swarms Of Molecular Robots
'They exist in loose swarms...'

Tether Asteroids To Save Us All
'If anything can glue the asteroids back into the planet they once were, magnology will do it.'

Blaux Your Personal Commuter Cooling Unit
A cooling unit had to be strapped to every commuter's back, by law.

3D Printed Damascus Steel Now Possible
'...lined with durite, that strange close-packed laboratory product.'

R9X Hellfire Missile With Long Blades Kills Queda Leader
'He was still roaring when the knife missile flicked past him...'

Would You Swallow An Origami Robot?
'Swallow it in an emergency--it goes down easily and works just as well inside as outside.'

Perhaps You Might Be Interested In Habitable Exoplanet Moon Real Estate
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

Blurry Face Photos Made 60 Times Sharper
Perfect tool for blade runners.

SpaceX Will Build Floating Spaceports!
'...a single perfectly level platform, which rose so high above the water that it was not splashed by the waves.'

Fast Radio Bursts And Space Beacons For Interstellar Navigation
'Every beacon has a code signal as part of its radiation...'

Robot Garbage Trucks Visualized
'It was a bulky, shining cylinder over twenty metres long.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.