#25 May 1989
Section 126.96.36.199.025.of the Artemis Data Book
by Peter Kokh
PALLAS: Potential settlers with a (mental) weakness for astrology and an aptitude for creativity, will have an opportunity for a fresh start. With Pallas' high orbital inclination, 35.85 degrees to our own orbital plane about the sun, ITS ZODIAC (the circle of constellations through which the Sun appears to travel) will be quite different from our own, having only two "houses" in common, where Pallas' orbit crosses the plane of our own, on the downswing in Pisces and on the upswing in Virgo. Palladians' unique set of "signs" would also include Serpens, Ophiuchus, Aquila, either Equuleus or Delphinus, Pegasus, Cetus, Eridanus, Lepus, Canis Major, Hydra, and Sextans, ten great beginnings for a whole new round of nonsense.
CERES: (and the Belt in general) At opposition, Jupiter will be as beacon-bright in Ceres' sky as Venus ever gets in our own. It may then be possible to pick out Jupiter's four great moons, Io, Europa, Canymede, and Callisto with the naked eye, the latter two being easiest to spot.
PODOKINETICS (literally, FOOT POWER SYSTEMS): Future Belters and others electing to make it the best they can without artificial gravity could do well with residual legs, there being little use for then, UNLESS, they adopted (as a "Protestant Work Ethic" sort of thing) the stricture that electric power for all luxury devices (personal entertainment and personal comfort etc.) be derived from pedal operated generators (possibly with power assist where the output, however well intended, would be insufficient, e.g. hot instead of cold shower water). If the VCR, the compact disk player, the vibrator, the cookie jar lock, the telephone, etc. would not work or open without pedaling, most would pay the price gladly. This would not work well unless it was a community-wide decision and we can foresee arguments as to whose turn it is to pedal up the communal holovision! Podokinetics would not maintain the body in Earth-normal tone by any means, but it could offer a badly needed physiological boost. Podokinetic devices should be developed now, as a health fad device, so they are ready when gravity-less construction shacks are set up in space.
All the same, the residual legs of human dwarfs would be no handicap at all. Bare feet may be normal in many living and working conditions; and anyone with even remotely prehensile feet would be at a definite competitive advantage. Our final comment on being footloose among the asteroids - in the very light gravity these worlds offer, pogostick races may be THE outdoor sport.
TOWARDS EZ GRAV: For those unwilling to accept the consequences of sustained life at minimal or no gravity, the easiest way to provide artificial gravity in space itself is not with rotating toruses, spheres, or cylinders, but with the tether. If all Belter ships were designed in polarized manned vs. tended sections (facilities whose automated systems needed to be tended only intermittently, minimizing transit from the one section to the other) the two sections, when not united for acceleration or deceleration boosts, could be easily tether-split to revolve around their common center of gravity. (see MMM # 21 Lunar Overflight Tours). Such 'binary' ships should be on the drawing boards now. Of course, that tether had better be strong and fail safe!
GRAVITY BY TETHERED ANCHORS: The combination of low gravity and typically fast asteroid rotation allows anchoring to an asteroid and paying out a tether beyond synchronous orbit distance to a point where the tether would whip the ship, station, or colony around the asteroid in step with the latter's rotation and provide through constant change in angular momentum whatever artificial centrifugal gravity one desired, "down" then becoming away from the asteroid. As the required radius would be many hundreds to some thousands of miles in length, the spin-dizziness which will affect some persons on conventional space colonies would never arise. Such stations would be quite flat-floored, without the tight curvatures previously associated with artificial gravity. Tethers of the necessary strength should be available by the time needed. A simple tether following cage would provide transit to the asteroid "up" below. A massive flywheel in the plane of orbit probably doubling as an energy storage device would keep the colony of station from twisting on the end of the tether. Docking could be at the asteroid-synchronous mark along the tether, between asteroid and station. This would also be the logical point for a surface to station elevator to swith orientation from floor-towards-asteroid to floor-towards-station. Outside excursions would be risky -- loose your grip and go on a real crack-the-whip fling!
WHITHER BELT WEALTH? Given that most people going out to the Belt will be making an all but irrevocable commitment to a permanent life at low-G, mininal-G, or no gravity at all, the dream that lures them outward will not be to go to the Belt to make a fortune, then come back to Earth (or the Moon or Mars) to spend it. The spending will be out there. Mineral wealth sent on its way to markets in the inner solar system will pay for imports of consumer goods out to Belt distribution centers. These can be either fixed (e.g. on Ceres, Vesta, etc.) or roving "gypsy general stores" that make the rounds between mining stations on prearranged itineraries. Of course we can expect specially configured minimal-G gin and sin traps set up in orbit around the major planets to snare some of those earnings before the suckers head for home.
Contents of this issue of Moon Miners' Manifesto