An illustration a city inside a giant space bag surrounding an asteroid. Image Credit: University of Rochester.

Scientists Want to Build a City Inside a Giant Space Bag Around an Asteroid

"A cylindrical containment bag constructed from carbon nanotubes would be extremely light relative to the mass of the asteroid rubble and the habitat, yet strong enough to hold everything together..."


Humankind has been exploring the solar system at an accelerated pace. Our technological advancement has gained rapid growth throughout the years. We are on the verge of returning humankind to the surface of the Moon in a few years, and by the end of the decade, we will likely have landed the first human on another planet, Mars. And while this is exciting news, we wonder what is next. I recently wrote about how, if we are to colonize the solar system, we must go beyond the Moon and Mars. Colonizing dwarf planet Ceres, for example, should be a top priority because of where Ceres orbits the sun. This dwarf planet is located within the asteroid belt Between Mars and Jupiter. And the asteroid Belt is of great importance to us, many and only because of the abundance of resources it offers.

Asteroids, resources, and cities

The asteroid belt is our solar system’s gold mine. The resources at our disposal could greatly catapult humankind into a new technological era. The more resources available, the faster advancement becomes. This is known throughout history, and many wars have been fought over resources. Now, scientists from the University of Rochester have explained how we could build entire habitats (cities) on asteroids in the future. Scientists from Rochester used engineering and physics to elaborate on how asteroids could become viable space habitats for future space explorers. This is of the essence if we want a future beyond Earth. We must find and create homes, buildings, and structures for millions of people to work and live on. But in space.


The future and asteroids

According to s paper published in the Journal Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences, researchers from Rochester University pen down why our future may lie in asteroids. Astronomers estimate that our solar system is home to approximately one thousand asteroids with a diameter larger than one mile. These cosmic rocks are passengers of the solar system, revolving around the sun as all other cosmic objects. But asteroids aren’t that tough. By that, scientists mean that asteroids are not strong enough to handle getting even one-third of Earth’s gravity from spinning. As a result, when set into rotation, most asteroids would fracture and break. What’s more, most asteroids aren’t even solid rock but pebbles and clusters of loose boulders and stones. These are only held together by weak gravity in space.

A space bag habitat

The idea is to contain an asteroid. Scientists propose to contain grains and pebbles. And how do they plan on doing this? Using a bag A very big space bag. Scientists suggest covering the asteroid with a massive flexible bag composed of high-strength carbon nanofibers. This space bag would encompass and support the spinning mass of the rubble and grains of the asteroid and the habitat within. This would support its weight as the object spins. Essentially, scientists want to use a massive bag to trap the particles, pebbles, and boulders of the asteroid and build a city within.

“A cylindrical containment bag constructed from carbon nanotubes would be extremely light relative to the mass of the asteroid rubble and the habitat, yet strong enough to hold everything together,” explained Peter Miklavčič, a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering and the paper’s first author. “Even better, carbon nanotubes are being developed today, with much interest in scaling their production for use in larger-scale applications.”


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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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