Phenomena

Washing Your Face in Space

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What happens to a wet washcloth when wrung out in space? Astronaut Chris Hadfield answers this question from students with a demonstration. Without gravity to pull the water downward, surface tension effects dominate and the wrung cloth forms a tube of water around it. Surface tension and capillary action draw the fluid up and onto Hadfield’s hands as long as he holds the cloth. After he lets go, we see that the water remaining around the cloth soaks back in (again due to capillary action) and the wet, twisted washcloth simply floats without releasing water or relaxing its shape. While pretty much what I would have expected, this was a very cool result to see! (Video credit: C. Hadfield/CSA; submitted by Bobby E)

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