New Mars Forums

Official discussion forum of The Mars Society and

You are not logged in.


Announcement: We've recently made changes to our user database and have removed inactive and spam users. If you can not login, please re-register.

#1 2018-03-13 12:19:37

Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 2,052

Toroidal Fiberglass People Mover with Plasma Bubble aspects.

I am not inventing anything.  I am combining existing ideas, thinking we should hope to harvest the potential favors offered, instead of constantly thinking defensively per microgravity disease, radiation threats, and the brutal laws of mass vs propulsion.
The favors I am looking for here are:
1) Plasma bubble solar wind drift as a partial propulsive mode.
2) From that same plasma bubble, perhaps some degree of radiation protection, so that the mass of the ship can be reduced.
3) Basalt or glass fibers from the Moon or other objects.
4) Resens from the Earth initially but I think later from Mars as to be used on Mars, but also to export to the Earth/Moon.
5) As may seem helpful, and safe the use of gravitational boosts by passing by a panet.
This then asks where the BFR method or the Ion propulsion methods (Xenon or Neumann metal propulsion) fit in.
I am proposing generalities here.  I do not want to restrict down to a particular mode of mission, except as perhaps examples of possiblities.

Here I involve Robert Zubrin, the holy of holies smile  So be careful not to club this idea to death prematurely.
Plasma bubbles.

A magnetic sail or magsail is a proposed method of spacecraft propulsion which would use a static magnetic field to deflect charged particles radiated by the Sun as a plasma wind, and thus impart momentum to accelerate the spacecraft.[1][2] A magnetic sail could also thrust directly against planetary and solar magnetospheres.

OK there are two possible gains here.  A drift in the solar wind, and possibly some part of a needed radiation protection.
For those who may be becoming nervous about their current dreams. I want to state solidly that I currently envision SpaceX's BFR as they propose or revise it as the method to initiate human presence on Mars.

However, after that I suggest that BFR become a surface transporting people very large interplanetary ships, and that for interplanetary travel humans should revise to fiberglass/magnetosphere devices.  This is not to leave out a possible role for chemical burns, ion propulsion, or gravity assists in the process of interplanetary travel.

It is good that Elon Musk has suggested that BFR might involve itself with the Moon.  The Moon could be a place where we can get stupid stuff like rocks to turn into fiber.  Stupid fibers will likely be good on Mars as well.  In this case then we do not have imediately go to mining processes which require the production of special metal alloys.  Just stupid fibers.
Resins can initially come from Earth, but I would think that the manufacture of them on Mars, for local use and export should be a major target.

You may recall that one of my first fulltime jobs after being a donut maker and a janitor part time was to be a shop electrician.  I wasn't that good at it.  I only did it for about 1 1/2 years as I recall (I voluntarily moved to a higer level job after that).  But I learned a few things about motors.

And so I want to make electric space donuts now, and for the donuts to spin at the very least to produce synthetic sanitation gravitation.  So there you go.  Donuts, Janitor skills, and electric motor skills.  Yes, I am thinking that since basalt/glass fibers and resin are likely to be electric insulators, why not put some conductive windings into them while you are building the space torroids?

So based on the above, and some other things I will include, I am going to provide a specific proposal.  That does not mean that I might not modify my thinking, after all the reason we discuss things, is so that we can learn and modify.
I am going to propose a semi-cycling donut spaceship to transport people.  I myself am becomming leary of the dangers of cycling spaceships, and may drop any part of it in the future, but lets suppose a donut torroid is going in for a gravity assist around the Earth and as it is passing by a BFR brings a load of people to it safely.  Safely is going to be a major issue.  I am presuming that the safety is because maintence should be very good in the Earth/Moon system, and that their may be capabilities to rescue the passengers of the BFR in the event that they miss their cycling spaceship.  Very expensive methods that you don't want to expend, but necessary.

BFR also delivers a large amount of solar panels to the semi-cycler.  The solar panels can be used to either power an ion drive or a magnetic plasma bubble.  And I don't have a firm ideal of when or where each might be used.  Can they be used together?  Do you boost the magnetic field during a solar storm, and then divert power to an ion drive when conditions improve?
But, my intention is to use the solar panels to be delived to Mars to provide some of the propulsion needed for the trip.
I don't particularly like plasma bubbles as a complete means of propulsion, but think that perhaps as is convenient we (Not really me) should utilize the push of the solar wind as is convenient, and particularly if the process also helps to shield from radiation.
As you might know, I prefer ballistic capture to hohmann transfers and aeroburns, but I don't rule out hohman transfer methods or aeroburns to complete the process of accessing Mars.  That is I wonder if a donut torroid could do a aerocapture into Mars?  Not that that is my preference at this time.

If you do aerocapture, then your solar panels might very well have to have been put inside the donut before it, because they are a cargo to deliver to the Martian surface.

My opinion is that during that era, it will make sense to manufacture solar panels either in LEO or on the surface of the Moon, from materials available from the Earth, Moon, and Near Earth Asteroids.
The latency period in LEO will be much less than on the surface of the Moon for teleoperators on the surface of the Earth, but I do not rule out manufacturing the solar panels on the surface of the Moon.

The Martian labor pool will be better utilized to manufacture organic items, such as resins.
So, by the method you like the semi-cycler attains Martian orbit, and a ship carries the settlers and the solar panels from the semi-cycler to the surface of Mars.

I have said that I think the Martian labor pool would be best utilized to work with organic chemestry, so I suppose I am wondering if the donut could have fuel tanks in assotion with it either internally or externally.  My intention is that the now uninhabited device would be sent back twords Earth by a chemical burn.  My thinking is that if SpaceX really can deliver fuel to LEO for $100.00 per pound after the infrastructure is built up could it be even cheeper to deliver fuel to Low Martian Orbit.  Anyway the solar panels were taken away, and there are no people on board to protect, so  stop the spin, no magnetic shield, and do a chemical burn, to repeat the process.
Back to Earth, maybe a gravity assist and new passengers and solar panels.
As for resin exported from Mars to places like the Moon or LEO, robotic ion rockets I would think would be a very good option.

Pretty enough I guess.

Last edited by Void (2018-03-13 12:28:26)


#2 2018-03-13 19:17:00

Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 2,052

Re: Toroidal Fiberglass People Mover with Plasma Bubble aspects.

Well Void, that might have some potential.  Lets think about it some more.

I occurs to me Void, that the two Martian moons Phobos and Demos, even if they are rubble piles may have use!

What if we could construct non-traveling spinning wheels?  Make them as thick as necessary, or as may be desired, use some magnetic shielding?  Synthetic gravitation from .38 to 1 g?  very good.  And if there is ice and or Carbon in those moons, even better.

Mineral fibers from Phobos and Demos.  Resin from Mars.

Vast potential in Martian orbit.  Mars actually being a partial shield from cosmic rays.  Phobos and Demos potentially also doing some shielding in some cases.

If it turns out that children cannot develop properly in .38 g, then I guess they may need to be raised in orbital wheels at a greater amount of g.

Gee Wizz.

Hmmm....How about the asteroid belt, the Trojan belt, the moons of Jupiter, ect.?

Just maybe Void.

Last edited by Void (2018-03-13 19:18:19)


#3 2018-03-14 15:50:08

From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 11,187

Re: Toroidal Fiberglass People Mover with Plasma Bubble aspects.

Large lunar base, insitu processing for permanent manufacturing, ect...


Hitching a Ride on a Magnetic Bubble Hitching a Ride on a Magnetic Bubble Scientists from the University of Washington and NASA are experimenting with miniature magnetospheres as an innovative form of space transportation.

"A 15 km-wide miniature magnetosphere one astronomical unit from the Sun would feel 1 to 3 Newtons of force from the solar wind," says Gallagher, "That's enough to accelerate a 200 kg spacecraft from a dead stop to 80 km/s (180,000 mph) in only 3 months.
"The magnetic field for our magnetosphere comes from a 1-ft diameter coil of 16 gauge enameled wire. We run 5 to 30 amp currents through the coil; that creates a 300 gauss field at the mouth of the solenoid" -- about 3 times stronger than a typical refrigerator magnet. The Marshall scientists use a more down-to-Earth plasma source for their M2P2 experiments -- a helicon plasma generator, which ionizes gaseous argon and helium with high-power radio waves. Maintaining such a bubble in space would require about 1 kW of power and less than 1 kg per day of helium propellant for the plasma source. In return, the bubble would intercept about 600 kW of solar wind power.

The Plasma Magnet for Deep Space Exploration And Radiation Shielding

Plasma bubble could protect astronauts on Mars trip


Abstract of Lunar and Martian Fiberglass as a Versatile Family of ISRU Value-Added Products

Glass Fiber Textiles: Lunar Production and Applications


#4 2018-03-14 20:42:59

Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 1,377

Re: Toroidal Fiberglass People Mover with Plasma Bubble aspects.


How do you "hit the brakes" when you want to go into orbit around another planet?  I've been trying to figure out how we could do that without slamming into the atmosphere of the target planet at high velocities.


#5 2018-03-15 07:37:25

From: New York, NY, USA, Earth, Sol
Registered: 2007-07-15
Posts: 2,272

Re: Toroidal Fiberglass People Mover with Plasma Bubble aspects.

M2P2 has some ability to generate force in directions at an angle to the solar wind.  On an outbound journey you actually want to speed up as you approach your destination, so you're going to tack "forward" and hopefully calculate things so as to arrive at the exact right place at the exact right speed at the exact right time.  It's all very complicated, but on the other hand it's definitely something you can brute-force with a navigational simulation.

A cool thing about M2P2 is that the size of the plasma bubble changes in direct response to the solar wind pressure at constant power.  This means that roughly speaking the force is constant no matter what's happening in the solar magnetosphere or where in that magnetosphere you are.  It greatly eases the difficulty of solving for your trajectory if you can hold that fixed (not that this should ever really impact technology development decisions in the modern age).

Carry a backup high thrust rocket for planetary orbit circularization and also in case you're a few dozen m/s off



#6 2018-03-15 07:49:30

Registered: 2016-06-19
Posts: 712

Re: Toroidal Fiberglass People Mover with Plasma Bubble aspects.

High thrust device means heavier structure to deal with thrust loads and vibration.
The rotating station needs to be set in an orbit that will allow embarkation and disembarkation at the planet of origin and at the destination, with capture and landing carried out by a separate vehicle, which can be small. The small vehicle might be carried aboard, sent in parallel or met with at destination. It's only people and possibly livestock that need to worry about artificial gravity. The rotating unit then is used only to deliver fit people.


#7 2018-03-16 19:38:10

Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 2,052

Re: Toroidal Fiberglass People Mover with Plasma Bubble aspects.

A encourage variations in how to do this.  That is why I structured my wording as I did.

I will again attempt to explain my vision, but please, please don't take it as rebuke.  Maybe together, we can really help to come up with something special.  As you know I have partial knowledge of celestial mechanics.  That is why I would sanity check my thinking with you guys.  I think sometimes, I cause an annoyance as some people think that I am knowingly insisting on things that just can't be so.  No, I am looking for corrections and improvements.

As I see it SpaceX will do a BFR with chemical fuels.  Maybe they will have 1 or 2 rebuilds before the actual mission.  For instance in my view, it makes sense to negotiate with the scientific community on  how a BFR mission could explore a more scientific mission 1, 2, 3, 4 years before stepping human foot on soil that could in some stretch of an imagination possibly be contaminated.

But I do mean negotiation with the scientific community.  No political BS designed to slow down Western efforts to expand the human races scope of existence.

It is thought that pieces of Mars should be embedded in the moons of Mars.  A core sample to bring that back seems reasonable to me.  To do that they are going to have to use external fuel tanks, and perhaps the O.F. fuel depot around Mars.

Land a somewhat sterilized mega-probe on Mars, to look for life (From the BFR)?  Well, I think it might be talked about.

But don't make a mistake, I am not in favor of letting a fifth column masquerading as science and moral concerns, getting in the way of the habitation of Mars by humans.


I see the people mover as being a hybrid device.  Possible propulsion components might be
1) Chemical fuel.
2) A simple magnetic field in the push of the solar wind.
3) A plasma bubble where plasma is added to the exterior of the spacecraft.
4) A Xenon Ion rocket.
5) A Neumann drive.

I think I want to consider the exclusion of #4 on the basis of the likelihood that there will be inflation on the price of Xenon, the more you use it.  Perhaps I am wrong, but I have that suspicion.

I think that #5 is not ready yet, even if it can eventually become ready.

I have a problem thinking that #3 and #1 are very compatable.

I would favor #1 and #2 instead, simplicity, and the likelihood that you could turn off the magnetic field periodically to make burns for course adjustments.  But rely on a relatively simple process of being blown in a general direction by the solar wind when your magnetic field was active.  A significant fuel savings, I would think.


I am also considering a gravity boost flyby of Earth to project the device either into a free return to Earth (If after the boost you discover that your systems are damaged.  Or the notion of going to Mars.

(Remember, I am just working on this.  It is bound to be crude at this point.  Maybe elegant later).

In the case where you have somehow used your methods to put you into a free return to Earth, you then may have a rescue opportunity down the road, if when you couple your solar panels to your magnetic device, it shows failure of a type you cannot in a practical way repair.


As you may already have noticed I am interested (Myself), in exploring a heavy device with magnetic bubble properties as a semi cycler.  I see currently as passing by the Earth for a gravity boost.  And receiving something like a BFR to dock with it, with human passengers delivered, and a massive solar array also delivered.

As you may have noticed I have the intention that upon arrival at Mars the solar array will mostly be broken up, packed into a BFR and delivered to the Martian surface, to help in the manufacture of chemicals for rocket propulsion, and in my mind resins to make more fiberglass spacecraft and space stations, which may have synthetic gravity.


Whereas, apparently a mini-magnetosphere can in time go very fast, all I want from it is for it to help the craft achieve a ballistic capture to Mars, in concert with other methods of propulsion, as may be needed, and functional.

I also want radiation protection both from the presumed thick shell of fiberglass, and perhaps from the magnetosphere itself, I might hope.

And I also want synthetic sanitary gravitation at a minimum.  I do not want vomit, diarreaha, and other emissions from human body's floating about in my proximity.  I want them to drop into a containment.  In my case I have specified a somewhat cone like bucket with a plastic liner with the property of being very cold so as to freeze the emissions of body substances into a relatively benign and biologically inert disgust-cycle.


As I have said I encourage others to chime in with their ideas.


For the return trip of the combined BFR and Fiberglass magnetic spacecraft, I visualize chemical propulsion being very much more major.  Maybe just a bit of magnetic game playing against the solar wind if it is practical.

The BFR coming back departing from the fiberglass donut spaceship appropriately to land on the Earth by means possible.
The Donut doing a flyby of Earth.  A fresh BFR launching to link up with the Fiberglass magnetic spaceship.

Upon linkup, the very large solar array that the new BFR would bring would be hooked up.

The hook-up would be relatively simple I think.  The array would already be deployed around the BFR somehow, and then the BFR would hook up to the Fiberglass magnetic donut.

Then you test it.  If all looks good, and you are in a free return to Earth orbit, then you take the dare to begin propulsing to a modified orbit which will intercept Mars.  In my opinion with ballistic capture as the objective.

I am done.

Last edited by Void (2018-03-16 20:11:53)


#8 2018-03-18 09:14:41

Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 2,052

Re: Toroidal Fiberglass People Mover with Plasma Bubble aspects.

I see now that some flaws exist in the idea as I presented it.  But the elements in their basic form make sense to me.  That is a substitution can be made for the element which is not satisfactorily provided for.

In this case, the magnetic field.  I had specified embedding windings in the shell.  They would not be superconducting, therefore due to things I have been reading, may not be usable.

Anyway the fiberglass shell then can be made simpler, and instead, a magnetic shield of a types that are being planned could be added. … ld-require

In order to provide an effective shield, the strength of the shield magnetic field at the source is preferably at least 1×10−4 Tesla. To obtain a boundary between the shield magnetic field and a typical solar wind background magnetic field of around 1×10−7 Tesla (perhaps 5×10−8 to 5×10−6 Tesla depending on the conditions of the solar wind) at a distance of up to a few hundred metres from the spacecraft a field strength of less than 0.1 Tesla at the magnetic field source will generally be sufficient. Allowing for effects of field persistence in the plasma environment, average electrical power from about 100 W to 10 kW, and more preferably from about 500 W to 5 kW may be provided by the power supply to drive the magnetic field source to generate the shield magnetic field.

Those power ranges seem reasonable to me from solar panels that are intended to be delivered to the Martian surface ultimately.

Where would the shield be deployed?  From inside the BFR itself?  There could be a good case for that, as the shield could be maintained each time the BFR landed on Earth, and perhaps even if it lands on Mars.

And alternative is to place in in the toroid at one point.

*I have mentioned propulsion from a magnetic bubble, the solar wind blowing on it.  Well, there should be some from your radiation shield, a supplement to your other means of propulsion


To restate:  My intention would be to provide radiation shielding, and synthetic gravity for the flight to Mars, and it might even be possible to provide it for the return (There might be several variations).

Therefor a longer mission time might be tolerated.  Therefore variations in method.

My intentions are that the BFR would launch from the surface of Earth with quite a few more people than current planning allows for because the donut toroid would provide additional space.

The BFR would pick up a set of solar panels which would be attached to it's exterior.
The source of the solar panels would evolve:
1) Earth.
2) In Space.
    -In LEO, from Moon rocks, and specialty items from Earths surface, and eventually asteroids and perhaps Mars.
    -On the Moon?
*I prefer "In LEO, from Moon rocks, and specialty items from Earths surface, and eventually asteroids and perhaps Mars."

If you could make fiberglass shells, with magnetic shields, mostly from Moon rocks for spaceships, then why not so for space station factories in LEO?  Furthermore if you have a magnetic shield, you may be able to use it to maintain orbit for the space stations.  Radiation conditions are more favorable in LEO.  Also BFR would not have to grunt that hard to get there.

Mining the Moon would be simplified.  Simply load up a bunch of regolith into your launch device, and move the rocks to LEO/Space Station.

Method of Launch/Delivery: Chemical Launch I presume from the Moon.  Then perhaps a continuation of chemical, moving to an Ion Rocket, or perhaps using a magnetic method to move through the Earths magnetic field down to LEO.


Processing the Moon rocks:  (An older but fine piece of work by the cousins) … oon-rocks/

Are we perhaps one step closer to being able to live on the Moon? A new device developed by scientists in Cambridge, UK, can extract oxygen from Moon rock. This technology would be extremely important for creating a lunar bases for long term habitation, or using the Moon as a jump-off point to explore the deeper reaches of space.

The new device, a reactor developed by Derek Fray and his colleagues, was created from a modified electrochemical process the team invented in 2000 to get metals and alloys from metal oxides. The process uses the oxides — also found in Moon rocks — as a cathode, together with an anode made of carbon. To get the current flowing through the system, the electrodes sit in an electrolyte solution of molten calcium chloride (CaCl2), a common salt with a melting point of almost 800 °C.
The current strips the metal oxide pellets of oxygen atoms, which are ionized and dissolve in the molten salt. The negatively charged oxygen ions move through the molten salt to the anode where they give up their extra electrons and react with the carbon to produce carbon dioxide — a process that erodes the anode. Meanwhile, pure metal is formed over at the cathode.

To make the system produce oxygen and not carbon dioxide, Fray had to make an unreactive anode. “Without those anodes, it doesn’t work,” said Fray. He discovered that calcium titanate, which is a poor electrical conductor on its own, became a much better conductor when he added some calcium ruthenate to it. This mixture produced an anode that barely erodes at all — after running the reactor for 150 hours, Fray calculated that the anode would wear away by roughly three centimeters a year.
To heat the reactor on the Moon would need just a small amount of power, Fray said, and the reactor itself can be thermally insulated to lock heat in. The three reactors would need about 4.5 kilowatts of power, which could be supplied by solar panels or even a small nuclear reactor placed on the Moon.
In their tests, Fray and his team used a simulated lunar rock called JSC-1, developed by NASA. Fray anticipates that three reactors, each a meter high, would be enough to generate a ton of oxygen per year on the Moon. Three tons of rock are needed to produce a ton of oxygen, and in tests the team saw almost 100% recovery of oxygen, he says. Fray presented the results last week at the Congress of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry in Glasgow, UK.

So ~1/3 of the Lunar Rock yields Oxygen which BFR could take on in LEO.  Therefore not needing to bring so much Oxygen to LEO from the surface.

And Metals and Alloys producible are mentioned.

And what of the slag?  Well I suggest fiberglass shells, and maybe feedstock for the manufacture of solar cells.

If you have space stations in LEO with synthetic gravity, I anticipate that such complex manufactures should be similar to methods on Earth.  And it should be possible to have a lot of help from people on the surface of the Earth to monitor and even run the processes in part, due to the favorable time latency situation.

As for Lunar mining, I think picking up and shipping inert Moon regolith to LEO is much better than trying to manufacture and ship processed materials such as LOX from the Moon to be used in space shipping.


And there is more!
Nuclear Winter?  Asteroid or Comet impact Winter?  Global Warming?  Greenhouse Gasses?  Ice Age?

We should with the previously mentioned scheme be able to regulate the overall temperature of the planet, at least in a crude fashion.

Nuclear Winter: Not to be rude to the smaller nuclear powers, but if the big ones ever go at it, then I think we are done for, unless SpaceX has set up a situation on Mars.  But if some smaller powers go at it, then we go all out to release Methane, and CO2, perhaps manufacturing food from petrochemicals such as coal.  In order to keep things warmer, then a subsequent overshoot in temperature might be likely, but I have a plan for that.

Asteroid or Comet Impact:  Such an event of a certain size might challenge Earth "Civilization", but the treatments available may be similar to Nuclear Winter.

If Global Warming is real, then from the processes in the space station factories in LEO, may be extracted a dusty materials least toxic to Earth life and humans in particular.  A mass driver may fire the dust into the Earths upper atmosphere from the space stations, both helping to maintain orbit of the space stations, and injecting dust at a preferred altitude, simulating a partial nuclear winter.  The dust might be put in shells that would burn up during passage through the atmosphere.

If we somehow by some way begin to do an ice age, then it is greenhouse gasses, and food from Coal and tar sands.

This all looks pretty good to me.  Happy days?


Last edited by Void (2018-03-18 10:03:44)


#9 2018-03-18 21:59:18

Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 2,052

Re: Toroidal Fiberglass People Mover with Plasma Bubble aspects.

I am becoming more and more interested in BFR as a Moon accessing device.

I want to suggest some options for it in that use.

First of all, for boosting cargo to low Earth orbit, of course the cargo must be in the payload bay near the top end of the ship.

I suggest a further method for shifting the cargo for landing convenience on the Moon while in orbit.  Unfortunately I don't think it will be suitable for Mars however.

Anyway, I would want to put a basket cargo bay connected to the base of the BFR at or near it's landing legs.

The basket could be toroidal.

During orbit the cargo would be moved from the nose area cargo bay to the basket.

The purpose of this maneuver will be to make the rocket less top heavy, and to use the cargo basket as a more spread out type of landing base.  In this situation, the chances of BFR toppling would be much less.

Further, removing the cargo to the Moons surface would be much easier.  Perhaps even side doors on the basket.

The basket then empty, then put lunar regolith and perhaps if you like ice, or even tanks or Hydrogen into it.

It will of course be limited for such "Mined" materials by it's lift capabilities.

But the point is I am really thinking there will be significant ability to manufacture large structures in Earth and Lunar orbit.

This can include spinning pressurized structures with radiation shielding.  Radiation shielding by mass and by magnetism.

In other words, I think the real capability to populate the sky's of Earth and the Moon.

The basket will not land on Earth.  BFR upon returning to a space station in LEO, would pass the basket over to that space station to process the lunar materials.

Then as desired BFR could land.

I am guessing that the basket would disconnect from the BFR and fly to the space station on it's own robotically, so that BFR can go strait to a aeroburn and landing if that is desired.


Last edited by Void (2018-03-18 22:08:47)


#10 2018-03-18 22:23:58

Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 2,052

Re: Toroidal Fiberglass People Mover with Plasma Bubble aspects.

I think that it is obvious that for regolith removed from the Moon, scientific evaluation of samples would be done.  Perhaps on such a space station, getting a comprehensive study of the Moon done that way.

Similarly, the method could be applied to Phobos and Demos, and asteroids but of course that will be a ways off.

I am guessing in fact that the "Basket" will have a propulsion system of it's own, as I previously specified.  Some type of electric maybe.  The BFR would just be used to lift it to a lunar orbit which would not have to be that high.


I have not ever gotten a response to the idea of an Oxygen Mass Driver.  Oxygen being paramagnetic, I have wondered if such a thing could be done.

Why is liquid oxygen magnetic?
Asked by: Mitchell

Actually it is not magnetic but paramagnetic. That is that it is attracted by the magnetic field but does not remain magnetic once it leaves the field. Gaseous oxygen is paramagnetic also but is moving too fast to be affected by the magnets. The reason that it is paramagnetic is because the oxygen molecule has two unpaired electrons. Electrons not only go around the atom in their orbitals, they also spin, which creates a magnetic field. Unpaired electrons spin in the same direction as each other, which increases the magnetic field effect. When the electron in an orbital become paired with another electron in that orbital, the new electron spins in the opposite direction and this cancels the effect of the first electron. Note that according to Valence Shell Electron Pair Repulsion theory (VSEPR), O2 has no unpaired electrons but according to Molecular Orbital (MO) theory it does have unpaired electrons. Since liquid O2 does stick to a magnet, MO theory is better at explaining the behavior.
Answered by: Mark Lockhart, B.S., High School Chemistry Teacher

Firstly, let us define the properties of the oxygen we'll be talking about. O2 has, in total, 12 valence electrons (each oxygen donating six).

For something to be magnetic (we say 'paramagnetic'), it must have an inequality in the total electron spin. The quantum number ms represents the magnetic spin of an electron. It can have values of 1/2 or -1/2, and is an important number when dealing with bonding and the Pauli exclusion principle. When an atom or molecule has an equal number of 1/2 and -1/2 spins such that they cancel each other out, it is not magnetic (we say 'diamagnetic'), and this can be determined from how the different electron shells are 'filled up' by the electrons.

The VSEPR & Valence Bond theories do not explain O2's magnetic nature. However, experiment reveals it most certainly is! Molecular Orbital Theory (MO Theory) is needed to understand how O2 is magnetic. Teaching the basics of MO Theory would take far more time than can be devoted here, so I'll supply a link or two at the bottom for anyone who wants to learn more. smile

Anyway, the valence electrons fill the molecular orbitals in much the same fashion as in other bond theories, and the Exclusion Principle still holds, but these orbitals have different names. The order in which O2 will fill the orbitals is:

sigma2s, sigma2s*, sigma2p, sigma2p*

Two electrons can occupy each s orbital, while 6 electrons can occupy each p orbital. Following the Exclusion Principle, two electrons will fill both the 2s and 2s* orbitals, 6 electrons will fill the 2p orbital, and that leaves 2 electrons to fill the 2p* orbital. These two electrons will only partially fill this orbital, and will have parallel spins. Since the rest of the electrons are all paired, the remaining two electrons in the 2p* orbital give the diatomic molecule a net total spin (it does not matter if they are 1/2 or -1/2 spins, they will both be the same). Since there is a net spin, O2 is paramagnetic.

So, if Liquid Oxygen sticks to a Magnet, why can't it be flung out of a mass driver?

It should be better than flinging solids, because up to the point of ejecting it can clearly be a fluid.

I do see a problem, where upon ejection, the vaporizing of some it could cause the nozzle to "Ice up" with solid Oxygen.

I think it should be possible to handle that potential.

Just on speculation I might hope that the temperature of the LOX may matter.  And the nozzle could be heated by solar energy somehow.

I am not thinking that we would want to process and bring up to lunar orbit LOX.  Rather I am thinking an electric spaceship which has an Oxygen mass driver, would come along with BFR.  A robot.  It might even give BFR with a basket a boost on the way to the Moon.

Then when BFR lifted the basket to Low Lunar Orbit (LLO) the robotic ship with an Oxygen Mass Driver would take possession of it and bring it back to the LEO or High Lunar Orbit space stations for processing.


I am thinking that an Oxygen Mass Driver if it is possible to make one, might be able to fling the LOX out at enormous acceleration.

And another nice feature of a ship powered by an Oxygen Mass Driver that may have humans aboard, is that people use Oxygen to survive.  So, if you get in trouble you might have lots of Oxygen to breath.


Last edited by Void (2018-03-18 22:37:01)


#11 2018-03-19 09:21:35

Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 2,052

Re: Toroidal Fiberglass People Mover with Plasma Bubble aspects.

I have done some thinking about the Oxygen mass driver.  I currently think that a liquid phase of Oxygen would be the hardest to manage.

Cold gas or solid pellets of Oxygen would be easier I think.

In the case of what I am thinking I currently think of a gun barrel type device of course with magnetic windings, and capacitors, a sort of LC progression to accelerate the mass.

In order to avoid liquid Oxygen, I think a chamber with a door where a droplet or larger spherical amount of liquid Oxygen could be injected and held centered by magnetism while it cools to a solid, and also vaporizes some Oxygen to a gas.

What is done with the gas phase is not understood.  Will it be recovered, or will it serve as a lubricant for the solid Oxygen pellet?

If recovered, would humans breath it, or would it be condensed back to a liquid?

So, I am thinking primarily the ejection of Oxygen pellets, by sequential magnetic acceleration.  The good parts of this are that the Oxygen pellets will likely vaporize after ejection by sunlight.  Thus not creating a long term collision hazard.

Also, Oxygen appears to be available from any body of matter in the solar system that we know of.  So, a sort of universality.

And another good feature is you are not expending metals or silicon, or Hydrogen, or Carbon all of which are apparently more precious at this time.

And of course, as I have said before, if humans are on a spacecraft using an Oxygen mass driver, then they might benefit to breath some of the discarded gas Oxygen, and might have some extra safety feature if a major malfunction strands them in some unfortunate orbit that they would need rescue from.


I have mentioned Oxygen mass drivers many many years ago elsewise.  This is not to say that others have not thought of it before.  I don't care.  What I care about is to seek the possible reality of it.

Likely to take a pause soon.


Last edited by Void (2018-03-19 09:33:29)


#12 2018-03-19 19:01:41

From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 11,187

Re: Toroidal Fiberglass People Mover with Plasma Bubble aspects.

kbd512 wrote:


How do you "hit the brakes" when you want to go into orbit around another planet?  I've been trying to figure out how we could do that without slamming into the atmosphere of the target planet at high velocities.

Think of solar sailing as being alot like sail boats on the water as you would adjust the size of the sail in the direction of pivot by a tail thruster causing energy to disipate with each turn as you tack from side to side along the path towards the planet mars. With any track that comes back toward the sun would cause a further slowing while pivoting the sailing ship. You can use a line of thusters along the side as a keel and a pair aft to simulate the rudder on the space craft.


#13 2018-03-20 11:54:18

Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 2,052

Re: Toroidal Fiberglass People Mover with Plasma Bubble aspects.

Its hard for me to visualize your last post SpaceNut.  That is not criticism.  I am glad you could provide guidance.  Thank You.  I will work on it.

Here is an answer to the problem you pose elsewhere, where the sunlight on Mars is attenuated compared to Earth, and so power will need a special concern to be sufficient.

In this case, I invoke a new type of solar cell.  A high temperature one.  It uses much more of the solar spectrum, and Mars actually has a broader solar spectrum than Earth. … solar.html

The photovoltaic (PV) cells in traditional solar cells convert sunlight efficiently within a narrow range of wavelengths determined by the material used in the PV cells. This limits their efficiency, as long wavelengths of sunlight are not converted at all and the energy of short wavelength light is largely wasted. Scientists have sought to increase the efficiency of photovoltaics by creating "multi-junction" solar cells, made from several different semiconductor materials that absorb at varying wavelengths of light. The problem is, such multi-junction cells are expensive to make.

Broadband solar absorption previously has been achieved using metal-insulator-metal (or MIM) resonators, which consist of an insulator sandwiched between a thick bottom and a thin top layer, each made of metals like chromium and gold. The metal components used in MIM resonators have relatively low melting points—temperatures that are reduced further when the materials are in very thin layers, as in the resonators, because of a phenomenon called melting point depression, in which the melting point of a material scales down as the dimensions of the material decrease. The metals in standard MIM resonators melt at around 500 degrees Celsius, hindering their usefulness in solar cells.
Now a group of researchers in Denmark have discovered an alternative method to capture a broad spectrum of sunlight using a heat-resistant device made of tungsten and alumina layers that can be fabricated using inexpensive and widely available film-deposition techniques. The researchers describe their work and the new material in a paper published this week in the journal Optical Materials Express, from The Optical Society (OSA).
"They are resistant to heat, including thermal shock, and exhibit stable physical and chemical properties at high temperatures," explained Manohar Chirumamilla of Aalborg University in Denmark, the first author of the new paper. This allows the absorbers to maintain their structural properties at very high temperatures.
In experiments, the new absorbers were shown to operate at a temperature of 800 degrees Celsius and to absorb light of wavelengths ranging from 300 to 1750 nanometers, that is, from ultraviolet (UV) to near-infrared wavelengths.
"MIM resonators absorbing in the spectral region from UV to near-infrared can be directly employed in different applications, such as solar TPV [thermophotovoltaic] /TPV systems and solar thermal systems," Chirumamilla said. "Other potential applications include in so-called tower power plants, where concentrated solar light generates steam to drive a generator."
"This is the first step in utilizing the energy of the sun in a more efficient way than with current solar cells," he added. "Using an emitter in contact with our absorber, the generated heat can then be used to illuminate a solar cell—which can then function more efficiently when it is placed directly in the sun."

Read more at: … r.html#jCp

The reason I am mentioning it here is that it will use heliostats.  This will provide for many benefits in my opinion.  First of all I presume that the solar cells receiving concentrated light, will themselves be lower mass relative to the electricity they provide.
This will be important, if they are to be manufactured at least at first in the Earth/Moon system, and then shipped to Mars.  But as I have indicated before I want such shipped solar panels to earn their keep during the voyage from the Earth/Moon system.
So we would need heliostats taken along as well, so they can focus light on these high temperature solar panels.  So then that is a mass burden.  However they can be quite thin I think for use in micro-gravity, and perhaps even still be strong enough for use on Mars.

However, if you do not want to reuse the heliostats as heliostats on Mars, because you can make studier ones say from metal coated fiberglass on Mars then you can recycle the metals that the heliostats are made of.

The Heliostats could primarily be made of Copper for instance, with perhaps a reflective metal coating deposited on them.

Then you would have Copper to make motors with.

During the space flight I see no need for the "Copper?" heliostats to have motors, as the spacecraft most likely can orient the whole assembly to the sun.  Or, perhaps one shaft and one motor for the whole assembly if tilting relative to the spacecraft is desired.


Board footer

Powered by FluxBB