I have successfully defended my dissertation. I would appreciate it if you would address me by my correct title, now: Doctor of Rocket Science.
The funniest thing about this to me is that I know that the research I’ve been working on isn’t done. There are more investigations to pursue, more refinements to write into the code, more variations to try in simulation, and more experimental verification to perform. Research never stops. But at some point, we grad students have to decide, with our advisers, when we have made a sufficient contribution and should wrap up our work into a complete dissertation. Still, it doesn’t quite feel like I’m “done,” because I know that the research has much further to go! It’s kind of anticlimactic.
A rather nice capstone, though, was spending last week getting the lab ready for, and filming, a bit for the National Geographic show “Known Universe!”
Hello, Intertubes! I have been slacking off on the blog in favor of preparing my dissertation and the presentation for my defense. I know, excuses, excuses…
To keep all eighteen of my intrepid readers happy, here is a video that recently went up on my lab group’s YouTube channel:
That’s me demonstrating the physical principles that could be used to make a real-life tractor beam that can push, pull, and manipulate spacecraft. The device would work by pumping changing magnetic fields at a target spacecraft, exciting eddy currents in the spacecraft’s aluminum skin. These currents interact with the magnetic field from the tractor beam device, allowing it to push, pull, or rotate the target.
In the video, I generate these changing magnetic fields by moving a big rare-earth magnet around. On a spacecraft, a more likely tractor beam device would be a set of electromagnet coils. I calculated that, with reasonable power requirements, such a device could exert ion-engine-scale forces on a target several meters away. More powerful electromagnets would increase that range.