Can We Create Artificial Gravity?
As of 2010, there has only been limited success at creating some form of artificial gravity that would limit the effects of weightlessness in space. Using centrifugal force, a spacecraft that spins can create a pull on objects within the vehicle During the Gemini 11 mission, NASA attempted to create artificial gravity by rotating a space capsule around the Agena Target Vehicle, attached with a tether. Although the astronauts aboard the ship did not experience any gravitational force, objects were pulled towards the center of the connection.
Although limited to science fiction, other laws of physics could be used to create artificial gravity. Strong enough linear acceleration would theoretically create a gravitational force opposite to the direction of travel. Essentially, if a spacecraft was able to create enough force from speed to create a single-g environment, people and objects would experience gravity.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory was able to levitate a mouse in 2009 by canceling out a portion of the gravity of the Earth using magnetism. With the same technology, it could be possible to create artificial gravity in an object by reversing the concept. However, the system is extremely elaborate and could not be placed into spacecraft using modern technology.
In all, weightlessness in space is a major factor in the exploration of the worlds beyond our planet. While scientists wrestle with the physics of weightlessness, methods to limit the effects will continue to be explored.
Above left: Agena Target Vehicle. (Supplied by NASA; Public Domain; http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/80/Profile_of_Agena_Docking_Target_-_GPN-2000-001345.jpg)