Research

Drop-Tower Droplets

A microgravity environment can cause some nonintuitive behaviors in fluids. Many of the effects that dominate fluid dynamics in space are masked by gravity’s effects here on Earth. As a result, it can be very difficult to predict how seemingly straightforward technologies like heat exchangers, refrigeration units, and fuel tanks will behave. The photos above show two bubble jets–created by injecting a liquid-gas mixture into a liquid–colliding in microgravity. This particular experiment was conducted in a drop tower rather than on-orbit, which produced some side effects like the large bubbles seen in the images. These were created by the coalescence of smaller bubbles that congregated near the top of the tank shortly before the experiment attained free-fall. (Photo credit: F. Sunol and R. Gonzalez-Cinca)

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