ISS water droplet experiment takes the classroom to microgravity

first_imgInternational Space Station (ISS) scientist Dr. Don Pettit has created a series of videos like the one above to illustrate the different properties of objects in space, giving Earth-bound teachers a tool to show students things that they couldn’t on the ground. Pettit focuses on how droplets of water react to different static charges in outer space, with the result being very entertaining.Pictured above, Pettit uses two knitting needles as well as a syringe filled with water to conduct the experiment. Each needle is purposely made of a different substance: nylon for the needle that the water “orbits” around and Teflon for the knitting tool near the syringe. The reason Pettis chose these two materials is because of their static electricity properties. When rubbed with a piece of paper, nylon produces a small positively charged energy field, the size being that way because of the poor conductivity of nylon. Teflon on the other hand produces a strong negative static charge, so that when the water is squirted out of the syringe in close proximity to the Teflon, it picks up the negatively charged ions as it passes by.This results in the water being attracted to the nylon needle in the orbital fashion illustrated in the video. The speed of the water droplet depends on the volume and its proximity to the positive charge of the nylon needle. Larger droplets tend to stick quickly, while smaller ones will orbit the needle longer and faster, sometimes even making figure-eights around it.If this is the kind of fun that the scientists aboard the ISS get to have all the time, show the place where I can sign up. I wonder if beer would react the same way as the water does?via Physics Centrallast_img

first_imgInternational Space Station (ISS) scientist Dr. Don Pettit has created a series of videos like the one above to illustrate the different properties of objects in space, giving Earth-bound teachers a tool to show students things that they couldn’t on the ground. Pettit focuses on how droplets of water react to different static charges in outer space, with the result being very entertaining.Pictured above, Pettit uses two knitting needles as well as a syringe filled with water to conduct the experiment. Each needle is purposely made of a different substance: nylon for the needle that the water “orbits” around and Teflon for the knitting tool near the syringe. The reason Pettis chose these two materials is because of their static electricity properties. When rubbed with a piece of paper, nylon produces a small positively charged energy field, the size being that way because of the poor conductivity of nylon. Teflon on the other hand produces a strong negative static charge, so that when the water is squirted out of the syringe in close proximity to the Teflon, it picks up the negatively charged ions as it passes by.This results in the water being attracted to the nylon needle in the orbital fashion illustrated in the video. The speed of the water droplet depends on the volume and its proximity to the positive charge of the nylon needle. Larger droplets tend to stick quickly, while smaller ones will orbit the needle longer and faster, sometimes even making figure-eights around it.If this is the kind of fun that the scientists aboard the ISS get to have all the time, show the place where I can sign up. I wonder if beer would react the same way as the water does?via Physics Centrallast_img

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