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Someday we may build a rotating space station with the centrifugal force providing an artificial gravity. (Also answer the title question)

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4 Answers 4

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You can take a ride on the Vomit Comet if you want to feel what gravity truly feels like.

What you feel as "gravity" is not gravity. You instead feel all of the non-gravitational forces that act upon you. The normal force that keeps you from sinking into the Earth exerts an upward force on your feet. Your bones transmit this force throughout your body. While your bones are solid, your guts and inner ear are not. Nerves in your guts and in your semicircular canals sense the tension that results from your body as a whole tending to accelerate downward, but your feet and bones keeping that from happening.

A rotating space station would yield a very similar feeling, with greater similarity resulting from a larger space station. In a very small rotating space station, the floor of the station will exert a force on your feet to keep you from sinking into the floor, but this will be substantially different from what your guts and head feel. The experience would be rather sickening. NASA has done studies on this. A rotating space station needs to be sufficiently large so as to keep the foot/gut/inner ear sensations more or less consistent with one another.

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Gravity is an attraction force. Any object with mass will attract one another.
The "Centrifugal Force" of a "Rotating Ship" creates an illusion of gravity. It is not a real gravity, it just "feels like" gravity.

When you are on the "Rotating Ship", you "appear" to be attracted to the wall of the ship.
But in reality, the wall of the ship is pressing against your feet because your body wants to fly outwards and the wall wants to maintain its shape.

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Centrifugal force is not a force but a result from inertia. If you build a spacecraft that looks like a doughnut and you spin it. People standing inside would feel like they are being pushed out. You can feel this effect when you are in a turning car (you get "forced" to the windows).

Your body wants to go tangential to the rotation. However, with the edges of the spacecraft providing a reaction force back onto your feet, you feel a force. If this spin is fast enough, this force will be strong enough to simulate gravity on Earth.

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I think I have the answer. Correct me if I am wrong. Due to the centrifugal force on the astronaut when the space station is rotating, the astronaut would be pushed toward the wall in the space station. Now this astronaut can walk on the walls of this space station, which would be similar to walking on Earth. Is this right?

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes that is correct - and it's what @masterwarrior123 said. But remember the rest of his answer: there's no such thing as a centrifugal force. What you feel is the spacecraft pushing back against your inertia. $\endgroup$
    – hdhondt
    Jan 31, 2017 at 8:55

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