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China Built an Artificial Moon Research Centre on Earth

China Built an Artificial Moon Research Centre on Earth

China has built a research facility that simulates the low-gravity environment on the moon. Despite being barely 60 centimetres in diameter compared to the natural moon’s 3,474.8 km, the fake moon is contained in a vacuum chamber – and it was inspired by experiments using magnets to levitate a frog.

According to scientists involved in the project, the facility could provide valuable research for China’s lunar exploration activities. Located in the eastern city of Xuzhou, in Jiangsu province, the simulator is expected to be officially launched in the coming months.

The facility, which will be formally inaugurated in the coming months, can make gravity “disappear” in an effect that can “last as long as you like,” according to Li Ruilin of the China University of Mining and Technology. According to the South China Morning Post, Ruilin added that the chamber is the first of its type in the world and would be filled with rocks and dust to replicate the lunar surface.

Scientists want to use the facility to test equipment in low-gravity situations for lengthy periods before transporting it to the moon, where gravity is one-sixth of Earth. This will allow them to iron out any costly technological snags, as well as test whether certain buildings would survive on the moon’s surface and assess the feasibility of creating a human community there. “Some tests, like as an impact test, may be done in the simulator in a matter of seconds, whilst others, such as creep testing, might take several days. According to a Chinese media site, Li stated, a creep test reveals how much material would deform under continuous temperature and stress,” according to a Chinese media site, Li stated.

Andre Geim, a physicist at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, was the inspiration for the chamber. In 2000, he was awarded the satirical Ig Nobel Prize for devising an experiment that used a magnet to make a frog float. A phenomenon known as diamagnetic levitation was used by Geim, which is now being applied to the artificial-moon chamber.