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From Mercury to Venus Help

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Sep 16, 2011

Boosting Speed

Life in space can become tedious if you are the sort of person who likes genuine outdoor air, real rain, and real snow. Maybe some day virtual reality will help alleviate some of this tedium, but it will always take a certain type of person to deal with the rigors of long-distance space travel.

The rotation rate of the artificial-gravity wheel increases gradually, beginning immediately after your return from the aborted Mercury landing. Over the next several weeks the spin rate will be controlled by a computer program that will optimize your adaptation to Venus gravity just as you enter orbit around that planet.

The first officer wasn’t joking when he said there is a good selection of videos on the spacecraft. In total, there are more than 2 million hours’ worth of audiovisual entertainment available. You are, after all, just beginning your journey; you will eventually be going all the way to Mars. There are music albums, virtual-reality games, and ironically, video games in which you get to pretend that you are a starship captain. However, the holographic environmental simulators (the rooms you have seen in science-fiction shows and movies) are something you’ll have to wait a few decades to experience. “The present government administration,” explains the captain, “does not believe the budget should allow for such frivolities.”

Finally, one happy morning (according to clocks in Texas) the first officer announces that you are leaving Mercury orbit. “We will notice a shift in the axis of gravitation,” he says.

“What does that mean?” you ask.

“When this vessel is not accelerating, the artificial gravity pulls straight outward at exactly a right angle with respect to the ship’s course through space (Fig. 5-6),” he says. “But when the ship is accelerating or decelerating, there is an additional vector either backward or forward, and this adds to the outward pull of the artificial gravity. The result is the peculiar illusion that gravity does not pull you straight down. If you were in the living space during acceleration, it would seem as if the floor were slanted. But you will have to come back to the bridge area and strap yourselves in while we leave Mercury orbit and accelerate on our way to Venus. Fortunately, this process won’t take long. In order to get on course to Venus, we need only a tiny bit more speed than was necessary to escape Mercury.”

Mercury and Venus From Earth To Mercury Boosting Speed

Figure 5-6. Artificial gravity is produced by rotating the living space on the interplanetary vessel.

“Good,” you say. “I can hardly wait to watch some more videos.”

“You work out,” says the captain. “Then you watch videos.”

The acceleration process takes about an hour. This is enough time to digest breakfast before you use the stationary bicycle, the all-in-one universal gym, the punching bag, and that strange running track that runs completely around the outer circumference of the living space and that seems to forever curve uphill.

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