Researchers in China are building an artificial moon research facility to simulate low-gravity environments using magnetism. These experiments will take place within a 2-foot-diameter vacuum chamber that make gravity essentially “disappear.” This chamber is going to be filled with rocks and dust to simulate the lunar surface, and touted as the “first of its kind in the world” and is capable of maintaining such low-gravity conditions for as long as necessary.
This facility is set to be used to also test technology in prolonged low-gravity environments before being shipped to the moon, where gravity is 1/6th of its strength on Earth. Despite its small size, it’s large enough for the equipment, but a larger one will be required for astronauts to fit inside, especially with their space suit on.
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Some experiments, such as an impact test, need just a few seconds [in the simulator]. But others, such as creep testing, can take several days,” said Li Ruilin, a geotechnical engineer at the China University of Mining and Technology.