Woe be to alien civilizations on large planets.
On rocky worlds more massive than our own, gravity’s powerful pull makes it nearly impossible for any life-forms that might exist there to launch satellites and explore the cosmos, previous research found. But one physicist has now come to extraterrestrials’ rescue and figured out how they could develop a multi-part system called a space tether, which would slingshot spacecraft to the farthest reaches using a rotating orbital cable.
“My initial reaction when I first heard about [the space tether] was, ‘There was no way that would work,'” said Alex Howe, an astrophysicist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and author of a new paper describing the idea. “Then I did the calculations, and I was surprised how much fuel and energy it would save.”