Earlier this year, the Capillary Beverage experiment launched to the International Space Station with new open-topped “Space Cups” for astronauts to test. Now those of us back on Earth are getting a glimpse of the cups in microgravity action. The geometry of the cups is wide on the back-end with a tightening v-shape near the mouth. This shape guides the liquid by using capillary action to wick it toward the spout.
One of the key goals of the experiment was to observe how the liquid drained–what shape it assumed in the cup and where and how much liquid was left behind. The researchers want to compare the real-life performance of the cups with their numerical models and simulations, which will help design future microgravity liquid transport systems for fuel, waste management, and other applications.
Although the experiments have a wider purpose, the space cups also do a great job allowing astronauts to drink from more than just pouches. Check out the gallery demo above to see how they hold up against astronaut silliness! (Video and image credits: NASA/IRPI LLC, GIF source)