Sunday, November 4, 2007

Bernal Spheres

Top: Internal view of a Bernal Sphere.
Above: External view of a Bernal Sphere.

A Bernal sphere is a type of space habitat intended as a long-term home for permanent residents, first proposed in 1929 by Dr. John Desmond Bernal.

Dr. Bernal's original proposal described a hollow spherical shell 16 km in diameter, with a target population of 20,000 to 30,000 people. The Bernal sphere would be filled with air.

In a series of studies held at Stanford University in 1975 and 1976 with the purpose of speculating on designs for future space colonies, Dr. Gerard Kitchen O'Neill proposed a modified Bernal sphere with a diameter of only 500 m rotating at 1.9 RPM to produce a full Earth gravity at the sphere's equator.

The result would be an interior landscape that would resemble a large valley running all the way around the equator of the sphere. Sunlight was to be provided to the interior of the sphere using external mirrors to direct it in through large windows near the poles.

The form of a sphere was chosen for its optimum ability to contain air pressure and its optimum mass-efficiency at providing radiation shielding.

This version of the Bernal sphere was dubbed the "Island One" design, and was sized for a population of 10,000.

Related future space habitats/constructs:
Dyson Sphere
O'Neill Cylinder
Stanford Torus
Globus Cassus

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