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To simulate low gravity, China built a second Moon

After wanting to build a Moon that reflected the sun’s rays at night to serve as public lighting, China is finally in the process of manufacturing one for scientific purposes.

Designed by the Chinese National Space Administration, this new research facility, which will take the shape of an artificial moon, will be subjected to a weak gravity, similar to that of the natural satellite of the Earth.

The project is part of the new space race to the Moon led by China, like NASA and Blue Origin. It is common to want to experimentally simulate the conditions of an area that you want to explore – this has also been done several times to Mars.

Small precision – of size – which could disappoint many people: this double lunar will measure only 60 centimeters in diameter, slightly more narrow than the 3,474 kilometers in diameter of the original model.

So there won’t even be room for a whole taikonaut to enter, including the suit. However, this will be enough for scientists to test some of their equipment and tools in order to observe their behavior in a lunar environment.

Mini-Moon for Frogs

This new kind of laboratory was partly inspired by the research of a Russian physicist, Andre Geim, who managed to make a frog float using a magnet. An experience for which he even won a IG-Nobel, the satirical prize which rewards unusual scientific discoveries.

Using a similar principle, the Chinese device uses a vacuum chamber and a strong magnetic field to reproduce a weak gravity. The giant magnets placed underneath make the small part levitate almost two feet from the ground, without limit.

A revolution since the reproduction of an environment without gravity, or with a lower gravity, currently requires much more effort. The only solution, used by astronauts in training and scientists alike, is to perform free falls in an airplane, all for a result lasting only a few too short moments.

For the illusion to be complete, the interior of this simulator based in Xuzhou in Jiangsu province will be lined with a lunar-style landscape. Dust, rocks and subdued lights are therefore on the program.

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