February 29, 2024

New Low-Gravity Simulator Design – Promises To Break New Ground for Future Space Research and Habitation

” Low gravity has a profound impact on the habits of biological systems and likewise affects numerous physical processes from the dynamics and heat transfer of fluids to the growth and self-organization of products,” said Wei Guo, associate professor in mechanical engineering and lead researcher on the study. “However, spaceflight experiments are frequently limited by the high expense and the little payload size and mass. Therefore, developing ground-based low-gravity simulators is necessary.”
From left, doctoral student Hamid Sanavandi and Wei Guo, associate professor at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering Credit: Courtesy of Wei Guo/FAMU-FSU College of Engineering.
Existing simulators, such as drop towers and parabolic airplane, use complimentary fall to generate near-zero gravity. But these centers generally have short low-gravity periods, i.e., a number of seconds to a few minutes, that makes them unsuitable for experiments that require long observation times. On the other hand, magnetic levitation-based simulators (MLS) can offer distinct benefits, consisting of low cost, easy accessibility, adjustable gravity, and almost unrestricted operation time.
A traditional MLS can only produce a small volume of low gravity. When a normal simulator imitates an environment that is about 1 percent of Earths gravity, the practical volume is just a couple of micro-liters, too small for practical area research study and applications.
In order to increase the practical volume of an MLS, the scientists required a magnet that would enable an uniform levitation force to be produced that would balance the gravitational force in a large volume. They found that they might achieve this by incorporating a superconducting magnet with a gradient Maxwell coil– a coil configuration that was very first proposed in the 1800s by physicist James Clark Maxwell.
” Our analysis shows that an unprecedented practical volume of over 4,000 micro-liters can be accomplished in a compact coil with a size of only 8 centimeters,” said doctoral trainee Hamid Sanavandi, a co-author of the paper. “When the current in the MLS is decreased to emulate the gravity on Mars, the practical volume can surpass 20,000 micro-liters, or about 20 cubic centimeters.”
The scientists also demonstrated how the MLS can be made utilizing existing high-temperature superconducting products, which enables it to operate with very little energy usage.
This work could prove specifically helpful in the preparation for future space objectives focused on long-lasting habitation of the moon and Mars.
” The fact that our MLS style offers a practical volume about three orders of magnitude bigger than that for standard solenoid MLSs makes it a prospective game-changer in the low-gravity research study field,” Guo stated. “When this MLS design is utilized to replicate reduced gravities in extraterrestrial environments, such as on the moon or the Mars, the resulted functional volume is big enough to accommodate even little plants, making this an amazing tool for medical and biology research study.”
Reference: “Low-Gravity Simulator Design Offers New Avenues for Space Research and Mission Training” 29 October 2021, npj Microgravity.DOI: 10.1038/ s41526-021-00174-4.
This research was supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. The work was carried out at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University, which is supported by National Science Foundation Cooperative Agreement No.

Left: A schematic of the magnet system developed by Sanavandi and Guo.: Contour plot of the trapping energy of a water sample put in the proposed magnet, which reveals the size and the shape of the region where the gravity is one percent of the Earths gravity.” Low gravity has an extensive effect on the habits of biological systems and likewise impacts numerous physical procedures from the characteristics and heat transfer of fluids to the growth and self-organization of materials,” said Wei Guo, associate teacher in mechanical engineering and lead scientist on the research study. Existing simulators, such as drop towers and parabolic aircraft, utilize totally free fall to create near-zero gravity. On the other hand, magnetic levitation-based simulators (MLS) can use unique benefits, including low expense, easy accessibility, adjustable gravity, and almost limitless operation time.

Left: A schematic of the magnet system developed by Sanavandi and Guo. : Contour plot of the trapping energy of a water sample put in the proposed magnet, which reveals the size and the shape of the area where the gravity is one percent of the Earths gravity. Credit: Courtesy of Wei Guo/FAMU-FSU College of Engineering
As humankind continues its exploration of deep space, the low-gravity environment of space provides unusual difficulties for engineers and researchers.
Researchers at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering and the Florida State University-headquartered National High Magnetic Field Laboratory have developed a new tool to assist satisfy that challenge– an unique design for a low-gravity simulator that guarantees to break brand-new ground for future space research and habitation.
Their new style for a magnetic levitation-based low-gravity simulator can produce an area of low gravity with a volume about 1,000 times bigger than existing simulators of the same type. The work was published in the journal npj Microgravity.