Seeking Clarification: Zero-G environments?

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Re: Seeking Clarification: Zero-G environments?

Postby Straylight0 » Sat Jul 04, 2015 6:55 pm

Hi and thanks for the plug!

So far as it goes, I'm taking my cue from Elite:Reclamation which I read and enjoyed. Ships spend a fair amount of time in rotating stations that simulate at least microgravity, or landed on planets which have the real thing; so they have to be arranged to cope. Besides, I suspect that even people born in space will benefit from some kind of "up" and "down" orientation.

In space, people have the magnetic shoes, but I didn't know about the microthrusters (thanks TorTorden!) I'm going with that, and I suspect that half-gloves with magnets would be highly useful as well. Personally I have my doubts about magnetic boots being effective, as walking is essentially a "controlled fall" and relies on gravity to propel you forwards as well as to stick your feet to the floor; I suspect that without it your feet would tend to leave your body behind, and you would need incredibly strong tendons and muscles in the front of your calves. I think boosting yourself along would be much faster and easier, and the shoes would just be for anchoring. But it's only a matter of time before I plum forget and write a spacecraft scene like there was gravity, so the boots stay!

Despite having been taught it in a physics degree, I completely do not understand coriolis force, and live in hope of someone being able to explain it to me...

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Re: Seeking Clarification: Zero-G environments?

Postby Gorf » Sun Jul 05, 2015 4:51 pm

My understanding of it all (which may well be flawed):

The coriolis effect is the apparent path of a moving object relative to a rotating object, when the viewpoint is rotating with the rotating object. In a coriolis station this would be the path an imaginary docker would travel in relative to his start point if he jumped vertically upwards. If you have rotational correction turned on, or are watching him while docked, then he would appear to move in a different path than would be apparent if you're viewing him when undocked with rotational correction turned off (of watching him from outside, through the letterbox).

Centripetal force is what keeps our imaginary docker's feet planted not-so-firmly on the deck. He has a velocity vector that is a tangent to the rotational plane of the station. If the station disappeared, he would zoom away from the start point at a tangent to his original circular path, not in a straight line away from the centre of that circle. Not that he would care - his day isn't going to end well whatever the laws of physics say.

Anyway, as his point of contact is constantly turning away from this tangential velocity vector, it imparts a foce on him which keeps him connected to it.

What's currently doing my head in is: Is there any potential to lob a spanner or a docker in a certain direction and have it just floating freely because once it's overcome the centripetal force, there's no force acting on it at all...?
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Re: Seeking Clarification: Zero-G environments?

Postby Straylight0 » Sun Jul 05, 2015 11:13 pm

What would it feel like to walk around the inside wall of a zero-g rotating cylinder through (we'll leave the sawn-off corners of the Coriolis stations for later). Would you feel like something was turning you sideways, and in what direction? Would it matter if you were walking around the circumference or down towards an end?

I walked around inside a sealed, rotating room once in a science museum. It was mind-blowing!

As for the spanner, you'd have to lob it just right so it got into the centre of the axis of rotation and stopped there... bit like throwing a pencil so that it balanced on its point, it would be very tricky!

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Re: Seeking Clarification: Zero-G environments?

Postby Gorf » Mon Jul 06, 2015 9:55 am

Straylight0 wrote:As for the spanner, you'd have to lob it just right so it got into the centre of the axis of rotation and stopped there... bit like throwing a pencil so that it balanced on its point, it would be very tricky!


I don't think it would need to get to the centre of rotation. Anywhere far enough from the air turbulence at the deck would do. You're not throwing towards the centre either, you're throwing at 225° from your own tangential path (or something like that). You're trying to get it out of the turbulence (hence the "up" vector) and overcome your tangential velocity (hence the "back" vector).

You don't throw it straight up, because of the coriolis effect. from your point of view, it would arc around and you might even catch it further into the station's rotation. Also, you're not trying to overcome gravity, so if you can negate the forces caused by the rotation, it should just float.

Its hard for me to get my head around. I found the GIFs on the coriolis effect page on Wikipedia were very helpful.
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Re: Seeking Clarification: Zero-G environments?

Postby Straylight0 » Mon Jul 06, 2015 10:24 am

Ooops, my bad on that one :) Although the air inside a station would probably wind up rotating along with the station, given enough time.

Thanks for the wikipedia link. When I'm more awake I'll try getting my head around it.

There was a wonderful bit in Iain M Banks "Consider Phlebas" when someone on an "Orbital" (huge ring rotating in space) cheerfully turns on their anti-gravity pack, vaults over the top of a tall building, and falls to his death. One of their comrades looks over and says something like "Oh dear, seems modern buccaneers don't know their mass-induced gravitation from their rotational reference frames."

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Re: Seeking Clarification: Zero-G environments?

Postby Gorf » Mon Jul 06, 2015 11:35 am

Straylight0 wrote:...the air inside a station would probably wind up rotating along with the station...


The air certainly won't be still, relative to a fixed point within the station (say, our docker). Even if you don't account for turbulence from passing ships or thrusters, it would have to be a totally empty cylinder with a frictionless internal coating for there to be no air movement relative to an external observer.

You'll get air movement, but it will depend on your frame of reference. If you're standing on the deck, the air movement at any given point in the station will be different to the air movement observed by a pilot on the station's rotational axis, rolling in unison with the station.

I think it would be like the patterns from stirring a mug of tea. The fastest rotation of the liquid is near the ceramic surface. Where the liquid touches the suface, you have turbulence because the friction from the mug tries to negate the movement. At the centre line of the cup you have least rotational movement resulting in a whirlpool effect.
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Re: Seeking Clarification: Zero-G environments?

Postby Straylight0 » Fri Jul 10, 2015 9:09 am

Would be dead complex like most weather I think! If you just had an unpowered station with no movement or temp differential for years, think the air would finally wind up stationary.

Just realised I've been getting something else worng: been having people swig from bottles in zero-g, and don't think that would work! Everyone probably carries a fancy straw device with them

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Re: Seeking Clarification: Zero-G environments?

Postby TorTorden » Sat Jul 11, 2015 12:47 pm

I ask, where does it say docking bays are pressurized ?
In fact I can only see reasons for why it really shouldn't be.

Air is a resource, and it's obvisouly limited on a space station, having this massive high risk area pressurized seems rather extravagant.
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Re: Seeking Clarification: Zero-G environments?

Postby Gorf » Sat Jul 11, 2015 4:36 pm

You can tell where there is air when you have a breached canopy. At outposts, you have to enter the hangar before you can breathe without life support. At a large station, life support timer is suspended when you enter the letterbox. (You have to actually land before the air supply is refilled though.)
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Re: Seeking Clarification: Zero-G environments?

Postby Straylight0 » Sun Jul 12, 2015 9:26 am

It's like Star Wars that way... the blue glow around the letterbox is a forcefield that holds air in while allowing ships through. Suppose it's simpler than maintaining dozens of separate airlocks and vacuum interfaces on all the doors and hatches leading to the bay or repressurising hangars when people need to work.

If they're sensible they'll have pressure doors and a way to mechanically seal the main entrance in case of emmergency. Then again, seeing how nobody has the sense to keep an actual spacesuit or a spare oxygen tank in their ship, I doubt it!


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