Can we use Birkeland Currents to impart torque?

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Can we use Birkeland Currents to impart torque?

Unread postby Shelgeyr » Mon Aug 12, 2019 5:02 pm

I've been gone and away from this forum for a LONG, LONG time - sorry about that!

I also just finished typing out a long post which, when I hit "Preview", vanished into the ether and the board asked me to log in again. I blame "Firefox". So here's a MUCH shorter, and sadly less entertaining version:

If mankind ever gets around to building a large habitat in space, would it be possible to use the million-mph Birkeland Currents which power the auroras in order to spin the habitat up to the desire speed?

I assume they're too thin and tenuous for something as crude as "perimeter sails" to be of any use, but (assuming we're talking about a wheel structure and not a "bolo-on-a-cable") would charging up the exterior ring allow the hab to function as the rotor/axle of an electric motor in order to build up the necessary angular momentum?

I hope that sometime in the (unfortunately most likely very distant) future, our species will realize the dream of building massive habitats in space - the micro-world types housing cities, farms, rivers, etc., in space. So forget how to get all that mass into the correct location for now - I'm concerned about where will the power come from in order to spin it up to speed once such a thing is built.

Your thoughts?
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Re: Can we use Birkeland Currents to impart torque?

Unread postby Aardwolf » Tue Aug 13, 2019 5:44 am

Shelgeyr wrote:I've been gone and away from this forum for a LONG, LONG time - sorry about that!

I also just finished typing out a long post which, when I hit "Preview", vanished into the ether and the board asked me to log in again. I blame "Firefox". So here's a MUCH shorter, and sadly less entertaining version:

If mankind ever gets around to building a large habitat in space, would it be possible to use the million-mph Birkeland Currents which power the auroras in order to spin the habitat up to the desire speed?

I assume they're too thin and tenuous for something as crude as "perimeter sails" to be of any use, but (assuming we're talking about a wheel structure and not a "bolo-on-a-cable") would charging up the exterior ring allow the hab to function as the rotor/axle of an electric motor in order to build up the necessary angular momentum?

I hope that sometime in the (unfortunately most likely very distant) future, our species will realize the dream of building massive habitats in space - the micro-world types housing cities, farms, rivers, etc., in space. So forget how to get all that mass into the correct location for now - I'm concerned about where will the power come from in order to spin it up to speed once such a thing is built.

Your thoughts?
I'm sure it's possible (likely it's how planets rotate) but it could be done with current tech. Point a solar array at the sun to power a large flywheel at the centre of the station. You can use this to rotate the body of the station and for any power storage.

NASA were researching this for satellites years ago as you don't need any fuel.
https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20050019225.pdf
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Re: Can we use Birkeland Currents to impart torque?

Unread postby D_Archer » Tue Aug 13, 2019 6:07 am

I am Dutch so i would make it look like a windmill, i guess the surface area has to be really large in order to do anything, most "wind" would be coming from the Sun.

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Re: Can we use Birkeland Currents to impart torque?

Unread postby Shelgeyr » Tue Aug 13, 2019 8:44 am

Aardwolf wrote:
Shelgeyr wrote:I've been gone and away from this forum for a LONG, LONG time - sorry about that!

I also just finished typing [snip!]

Your thoughts?
I'm sure it's possible (likely it's how planets rotate) but it could be done with current tech. Point a solar array at the sun to power a large flywheel at the centre of the station. You can use this to rotate the body of the station and for any power storage.

NASA were researching this for satellites years ago as you don't need any fuel.
https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20050019225.pdf



Thank you very much for the info!
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Re: Can we use Birkeland Currents to impart torque?

Unread postby neilwilkes » Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:36 am

The biggest problem with such habitats will be the GCR levels, so unless said habitat will also generate it's own magnetic shield like the planetary one then the radiation levels would soon be fatal.
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Re: Can we use Birkeland Currents to impart torque?

Unread postby Shelgeyr » Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:05 pm

neilwilkes wrote:The biggest problem with such habitats will be the GCR levels, so unless said habitat will also generate it's own magnetic shield like the planetary one then the radiation levels would soon be fatal.


I've always hoped the answer would be a form of water-jacketing, i.e. no matter where you looked out, you would most likely be looking through a river/aquarium. I am, of course, not at all sure how thick the water would need to be.
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