If you build a space station in the shape of a cylindrical wheel and construct it so that it spins around a central docking point in order to create artificial gravity would it be logical to orient the interior structures so that the crew would have their feet aligned with the centripetal force (i.e., parallel to the radius of the circle)?

  • $\begingroup$ Could you make a drawing? This sounds like they will be pressed against the wall. $\endgroup$ – asdfex Feb 11 '17 at 17:37
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    $\begingroup$ Is your question, should the interior features be aligned with the direction of the artificial gravity? If you go to all the trouble and expense of providing artificial gravity, why would you not do this? $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Feb 11 '17 at 19:52
  • $\begingroup$ As an aside, there is something potentially ambiguous about your wording: you said "..would have their feet aligned...". The feet of Earth bound humans, when standing still, are parallel to the ground, not to the acceleration vector, gravity. It is their legs that are aligned with gravity. $\endgroup$ – Puffin Feb 13 '17 at 13:05

If we ignore the shape you decide to go with for the moment, yes, of course you want interior structures aligned so that "down" as perceived by the crew is the same as the "down" direction something would fall when dropped. This way things on a desk will stay there, for example.

So for a cylindrical wheel, the curved floor will be the skin of the cylinder.

I am unsure what you mean by "aligned parallel to the radius of the circle" though.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your patience with my question. So, yes, the curved floor would be the outer skin of the cylinder so that "down" has normal reference for people. My initial thought was a small scale station, but I recognize that as a structure got larger the reference direction might get less significant. $\endgroup$ – Tian Feb 12 '17 at 8:44
  • $\begingroup$ For a small station the problem is that risk differences between your head and feet will make it very unpleasant. We have a few posts on minimum size station to make this workable. I think 100m is the region you need. $\endgroup$ – Rory Alsop Feb 12 '17 at 9:23
  • $\begingroup$ Is the intention of the question is to find out what problems arise from specifically small rotating structures where the approximation to gravity is poor? i.e. instead of a uniform quasi parallel downward acting force the acceleration vector is markedly divergent from the centre outwards? $\endgroup$ – Puffin Feb 13 '17 at 13:08

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