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Gravity in the Solar System

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Fluids in Space

Fluids in Space

Credit: NASA
Source: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/images/station/crew-34/html/iss034e062051.html
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Nothing behaves normally in space. Juggled tomatoes float. Fluids don’t flow into your mouth when you tip a cup. Researchers study the behavior of different materials and then design inventions to get around these problems.

Why It Matters

Credit: NASA
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Zvezda_toilet.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Wastes are difficult to deal with in microgravity too, as this toilet on the ISS suggests [Figure2]

  • Astronauts spend months at a time in microgravity on the International Space Station and at times in other spacecraft.
  • These astronauts need to do all the bodily functions of a human on Earth: eat, drink, and eliminate waste.
  • Without gravity, fluids do not behave normally. Capillary action causes fluids to flow in the absence of gravity.

Can You Apply It?

With the link below, learn more about fluids in microgravity. Then answer the following questions.

  1. Describe what happens to fluid in a cup as you drink it, especially in regards to gravity.
  2. How do you drink a fluid such as coffee in microgravity, according to the video?
  3. How do fluids in microgravity flow without a pump?
  4. Does capillary flow happen on Earth? Why is it not a major mover of fluids?
  5. How does the patented low gravity coffee cup work?

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