From the artificial sun to the artificial moon . According to scientists from the China University of Mining and Technology, this artificial moon is the first of its kind in the world and leads us to a simulation of our satellite like we have never seen before.
The facility simulates the low- gravity environment of the Moon, and is located in the eastern city of Xuzhou , in Jiangsu province.
The simulator is expected to officially launch in the coming months and is intended to help prepare astronauts for future exploration missions. Inside the installation, which works like a vacuum chamber , they are recreating an artificial lunar landscape, made up of rocks and dust that are as light as those found on the Moon’s surface. Once the “artificial moon” is inaugurated, lunar gravity can be “turned on” and “off” whenever necessary, according to Li Ruilin, a geotechnical engineer at the China University of Mining and Technology and leader of the work.
The only exception that we can highlight at the moment is that the vacuum chamber or artificial moon is very, very small. At the moment it is only planned for 60 centimeters in diameter.
The China National Space Administration hopes the new facility will help them test lunar equipment on Earth within the simulated small space, such as testing whether 3D printing equipment works properly in low-gravity conditions to build structures on the real lunar surface.
Recall that gravity on the Moon is about one-sixth that of Earth, so inside the artificial gravity room scientists use a strong magnetic field to simulate the “levitation effects” of such a low gravitational force. like the moon The magnetic force needed to generate a moon-like environment is so strong that it could break components like superconducting cables. For this reason, steel has been replaced by aluminum in some key components, among other things.
The Chinese facility will be open to researchers from around the world , not just scientists from China.
Target: the Moon
The United States is not the only country that wants to return to the Moon. China has set a goal of sending astronauts to the moon by 2030 and establishing a lunar base together with Russia by the end of this decade (construction could start in 2027, according to Chinese space authorities). Hence, this new development comes at a time when China is trying hard to join the elite of space superpowers.
In fact, they are also working on a project to build a solar power generator in space , which would send power to Earth and become the largest man-made object in orbit.
The Chinese space program is booming and this is just one step. Recently, it has become the first nation to detect water directly on the surface of the Moon thanks to its Chang’e-5 probe and they plan, like SpaceX, to put humans on Mars by 2033. It is clear that China seeks to get as far ahead as possible in this new space race.