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5 Zero Gravity Experiments

1. Zero Gravity Flame



We are so used to seeing flames on Earth that when we see a flame in zero gravity we are quite surprised. The secret is convection. On Earth, hot air is less dense than cold air and hence rises, giving flames the aspect we all know. In zero gravity, flames are spherical because there is no convection. As there is no gravity, hot air won't rise.


2. Zero Gravity Water



On Earth we are used to seeing drops of water either attached to a surface (a window on a rainy day for example) or simply falling down from the shower. In space, the absence of gravity allows you to gaze at drops of water floating around. Of course, the shape of least energy will be a spherical drop.


3. Life in Zero Gravity



Life in Zero Gravity isn't as easy as we think. Astronauts go through intense training so they can get used to the absence of gravity. Rutinary activities such as eating, sleeping and moving around are really impacted by zero gravity. Orientation becomes a problem because you lose vertical reference, and any activity related with liquids turns out to be tedious to handle.


4. Zero Gravity Liquid Ping Pong



This simple experiment shows how a water droplet will always remain spherical and as one, when softly bounced on hydrophobic paddles (surfaces which chemically repel water). You can also appreciate the vibration inside the droplet, caused by the impact on the paddles, when it moves between them.


5. Zero-G Parabolic Flight



If you ever have a chance to have a ride on a parabolic flight you must make sure you go. These flights are performed by commercial aircraft which have had their cabin modified, and with a very small payload can follow a parabolic flight profile. During the initial phase of the parabola the aircraft acquires a high angle of ascent (typically 47°) during which the crew will feel hypergravity. At the top of the parabola the crew will undergo a phase of microgravity for about 20 seconds. The aircraft will then dive down at a steep angle and the whole profile can be repeated over again several times.