Figure 3. A diagram of Earth’s radiation belts.
Some of the
100 pounds of payload and using a
10 k W light source for power.
You’ll find information on the
climber and ribbon competitions at
petition.html Perhaps those of us
in robotics clubs should encourage
our own, less demanding, climber
Arthur C. Clarke said we would
see an SE 50 years after people
stopped laughing at the idea. With
the discovery of CNTs and their
incredibly high strengths, people
have finally stopped laughing.
Perhaps we’ll see the first SE in
the lifetime of most Nuts & Volts
NUTS & VOLTS
Climbers and the changing
positions of the Sun and Moon
will induce oscillations in the
ribbon. Will the oscillations
cause problems for the ribbon?
If so, a means of dampening the
oscillation will need to be found.
Perhaps future research will
show how the oscillations can be
used to help climbers ascend
Making an SE ribbon means
weaving CNTs into a ribbon.
What’s the longest length of
CNT that can be manufactured?
How does weaving them into a
one-meter-wide and 22,000-mile-
long (or greater) ribbon affect
the ultimate strength of the
ribbon? What happens to the SE
ribbon as CNT fibers within it
break? Will atomic oxygen in
space attack the ribbon? Will
climbers damage the ribbon
every time they climb it? If the
ribbon cannot be made from
22,000-mile-long CNTs, then a
method of combining panels
must be developed.
Our country had the foresight to create the National
Nanotechnology Institute (NNI).
With its $990 million budget, the
Institute encourages the development of nanotechnology and
studies its potential health
effects. While the primary focus
of the NNI is not the SE, spin-offs will make their way into the
design of the SE.
On a level more accessible
to the amateur, the Spaceward
org) is initiating a climber competition. Amateurs and professionals alike have the opportunity to try their hand at designing
a small-scale climber. The 2005
competition — for which awards
of up to $50,000 are offered — is
for climbers that can climb
faster than one meter per second for at least 100 feet carrying
One of the many issues to
resolve is how to safely traverse
Earth’s Van Allen Radiation Belts. I’d
like to make a few comments on this
topic and lay to rest one of the silliest
statements made by the Moon Hoax
All moving electrical charges
produce, and are affected by,
magnetic fields. Earth’s intrinsic
magnetic field, therefore, traps moving charged particles emitted by the
Sun and other sources in the depths
of space. Charged particles spiral
around Earth’s magnetic field lines
as they travel towards Earth’s poles.
As they approach Earth, the magnetic field lines get closer together,
increasing the strength of the local
A charged particle will approach
Earth’s poles until the magnetic field
becomes strong enough to bounce it
back like a mirror. If a charged particle has enough energy, it can slam
into Earth’s atmosphere. At that
point, it gives up its energy and is
absorbed within the atmosphere.
With enough particles slamming
into Earth’s atmosphere (say, after a
massive solar flare or coronal mass
ejection), they will illuminate the
upper atmosphere like the inside of a
fluorescent light bulb — the aurora.
Particles may even make it to the