|This article is outdated. (February 2012)|
The Tethered Experiment for Mars inter-Planetary Operations (TEMPO³) is a CubeSat-based satellite meant to demonstrate artificial gravity generation. After launch, the spacecraft will spin end over end to create gravity-like acceleration at both ends of a tether. The project is being run by the Mars Society, and will build from high-altitude tests to eventual orbital flight in 2011.
In the Mars Direct architecture for a humans-to-Mars mission, the crew on their way to Mars uses their discarded upper stage as a counterweight to spin end over end. This action generates gravity for the crew and prevents them from having to spend the six month trip in zero-gravity conditions. Gemini 11 and 12 showed that the concept was viable, but no gravity-related work has taken place since then using tethers.
The spacecraft will launch with other CubeSat satellites. After separating from its carrier, TEMPO³ will spin up and then split into two parts connected by a tether. Separating will slow the spin rate, but will increase the acceleration measured at the ends. Accelerometers on board the spacecraft will sense the amount of gravity being demonstrated and will beam that data to Earth.
- Mars society web page; http://marssociety.org
- K.C. Jones, "'TEMPO 3' Artificial Gravity Satellite On Mars Society's To-Do List," InformationWeek, August 19, 2008
- Tom Hill and Alex Kirk, "TEMPO3: the Mars Society’s newest project," The Space Review, August 25, 2008