Lunar Tire

I did not expect to think about jewelry, as I wandered through the American Museum of Natural History the other day.

At least, not until I reached The Hall of Gems, and certainly not in the Beyond Earth exhibit, which is about the future of space exploration. But that’s where I encountered this sparkly bit of bling.

Despite its proximity to every astronaut’s wardrobe basic, giant white gloves, this shiny sphere is actually not an example of the galactic future of jewelry. It’s a Goodyear Lunar Spring Tire.

The future of the aftermarket accessory is made of wire mesh. There’s a small sample of this material available for visitors to handle; it’s surprisingly soft to the touch. The tire gets its bounce from 800 separate wire springs rather than air, so even on the moon’s sharp and bumpy surface, there’s no way to get a flat tire. The exhibit text comments: “Since there are no roads on the Moon (yet), that’s a valuable trait indeed.”

Beyond Earth runs through August 12th, 2012.

 

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Alison J. Stein

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