Magnets are very important materials in our world today. Actually, a vast amount of the technology that exists today is practically inconceivable without magnets. But researchers have moved beyond the relevance of magnets on earth, and are already exploring the use of magnets in space. Interestingly, it turns out that there is a lot that magnets can do in space. Permanent magnets typically retain their magnetism in full in space while electromagnets magnets would still work when subjected to electricity. Read on to learn more about how magnets are used in space and indeed, the outlook for magnets in space.
Can Magnets Work in Space?
As a matter of fact, yes. Magnets do work in space, just as efficiently as they work here on earth. Space explorers have discovered that magnetic properties are not affected by gravitational pull or air.
Research has shown that the power of these magnets originates from the electromagnetic field they generate all by themselves. Electromagnets, on the other hand, do need electricity to work, meaning that if you run an electric current through them in space, they will work. But when you do look further, you’ll realize that it’s been established that weather itself is a giant magnet floating in space.
The earth’s magnetic field travels through space and affects magnets within close proximity. This earth’s magnetic field attracts other magnets and small charged particles in space.
How Magnets Are Used in Outer Space?
Since the Apollo 11 mission, magnets have continued to play important roles in space exploration. They are used in a number of critical applications in space. For instance, magnets are a major contributor to the success of space explorations so far. Here are specific examples of cases in which magnets find great application in space.
1. Controlling Satellites
Electromagnetic coils play a key part in sustaining satellites by using magnetic torques. Magnetic torques are used for orienting objects like satellites in space. The magnetic torque (also known as magnet torque) controls the attitude, detumbling, and stabilization of the satellites. Magnetic torques typically provide a rotationally asymmetric (anisotropic) magnetic field over an extended area. The magnetic field is controlled by switching current flow through the coils of the electromagnet on or off, using computerized feedback control.
2. The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02)
The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer is a state-of-the-art particle physics detector that was launched in May 2011 by NASA. The AMS-02 was carried into space by the Space Shuttle Endeavour and mounted on the International Space Station (ISS). The AMS-02 detects and measures antimatter in cosmic rays and provides key information that allows scientists at NASA to study the formation of the Universe and search for evidence of dark matter.
The interesting thing is that the AMS-02 module is a very strong permanent magnet. When particles interact with the magnetic field of the module, they bend in different ways depending on the charge they are carrying. Scientists use the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to study the particles from cosmic phenomena like black holes and dying stars.
Radiation and particles pass through a series of detectors in the AMS-02. The characteristics of particles passing directly from the top to the bottom are then recorded.
3. Magnet Motor
We see another application of magnets in space when we look at the memory system developed by MIT for the navigational computers of the Apollo 11 lunar mission. The power in the system was generated by magnets instead of electricity. The use of magnetic energy enhanced the reliability of the made system, as it was less susceptible to power outages.
Future Expectations on Magnets Use in Space
In addition to the extensive uses of magnets today, researchers and space explorers believe that magnets possess the potential to further improve space exploration in the future. There are more ideas about how magnets can be used to further space exploration efforts.
For instance, it’s been proposed that magnets can be used as fuel for energy. Also, magnets can be used to shield the space station and other spacecraft from radiation and for collecting broken satellite parts from the atmosphere. Some researchers even think that spacecraft can use electromagnets to fly in formation.
Magnets have continued to remain very important components in space exploration efforts, even from the day Neil Armstrong and others landed on the moon on Apollo 11 till date. Since then, permanent magnets have been used in other beneficial ways. Today, space explorers still believe that magnets hold significant potential for future space explorations.
Thank you for reading our article and we hope it can be helpful to you. If you want to know more about magnets, we would like to recommend you to visit Stanford Magnets for more information.
As one of the leading magnet suppliers around the world, Stanford Magnets has been involved in R&D, manufacturing, and sales of permanent magnets since the 1990s and provides customers with high-quality rare earth permanent magnetic products such as neodymium magnets, and other non-rare earth permanent magnets at a very competitive price.