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Fascinating Fluid Physics

Science and technology experiments conducted by NASA aim to provide significant health and safety benefits for astronauts and spin-off technologies to improve life on Earth. Sometimes the experiments themselves attract broader attention because they are so visually captivating and thought-provoking.
 
 

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Don Pettit’s Saturday Morning Science Videos
 
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CFE fluid video from Mark Weislogel’s ISS operations

 
Description
Videos to Download
Quicktime
MPEG
water balloon experiment 1
AxialModeEjectedDrop
Quicktime Movie
~2.9 mb
MPEG Movie
~3.1 mb
water balloon experiment 2
DropletEjectionAndImpact
Quicktime Movie
~10.4 mb
MPEG Movie
~10.5 mb

Water Balloons in a NASA Airplane

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Glenn Fluid Mechanics Scientist, Dr. Mark Weislogel, and his team of researchers burst approximately 50 water balloons over a four-day flight campaign aboard a DC-9. Over the last 10 years, footage from the water balloon experiments has been used in textbooks, scientific journals, and classrooms worldwide. Aside from looking “really cool,” these water balloon experiments show how large liquid drops behave in a low-gravity environment and how easily and rapidly they can be deployed. Experiments and demonstrations like these are precursors to large-scale large liquid drop deployment tests that might be considered for future space experiments on exploration missions.
Video curtesy of Science Friday external web site

 
Description
Videos to Download
Quicktime
MPEG
water balloon experiment 1
A 3L water-filled balloon is ruptured simultaneously at opposite ends using syringe needles. [needle causes a slice-type rupture, which proceeds along a desired path.]
Quicktime Movie
~1.2 mb
MPEG Movie
~800 kb
water balloon experiment 2
Red-dyed, water-filled balloon rupture. Blue-dyed water is injected into the blob with increasing force.
Quicktime Movie
~1.8 mb
MPEG Movie
~1.4 mb
water balloon experiment 3
Experimenter blows large air bubble into the free floating blob using a straw.
Quicktime Movie
~1.9 mb
MPEG Movie
~1.4 mb

Water Balloons in a Ground Laboratory

Click on the links below to view high-speed photography of punctured water balloons at high speed (1000 frames/sec) in a laboratory:
 
Description
Videos to Download
Quicktime
MPEG
water balloon experiment 4
A 15cm diameter water balloon is ruptured using a syringe needle. At least in the short term, the retracting membrane leaves the bulk liquid intact and very spherical. A spray (mist) of drops is ejected in the direction of the membrane retraction.
Quicktime Movie
~958 kb
MPEG Movie
~265 kb
water balloon experiment 5
A 7cm diameter glycerol-filled balloon is punctured by a syringe needle. (The viscosity of glycerol is 1500 times that of water.) No "spray" of drops is observed.
Quicktime Movie
~441 kb
MPEG Movie
~137 kb
water balloon experiment 6
A 20cm diameter water balloon is punctured using a blunt pencil. A "splash" at the puncture location is observed much like that of a rock thrown into a shallow puddle.
Quicktime Movie
~905 kb
MPEG Movie
~2.01 mb
water balloon experiment 7
A sausage-shaped water balloon is ruptured near its midpoint. The balloon unwraps from the water in stages as it rips in two. A "fan" is produced near the puncture location where fluid from left half of the balloon is forced into the right half.
Quicktime Movie
~641 kb
MPEG Movie
~212 kb

Symphony of Spheres on the International Space Station

During Dr. Donald Pettit's nearly six-month flight (from November 2002 – May 2003) on-board the International Space Station, he conducted many experiments and demonstrations for the Saturday Morning Science Program. His “Symphony of Spheres” is an excellent illustration of the fluid physics experiments that can be performed in microgravity, as opposed to a 1-g, low-gravity environment. Don's comments about his “Symphony of Spheres” included:  

“Created inside the air bubble were a half-dozen or so small spherical droplets of water, one to four millimeters in diameter, orbiting around like a miniature solar system. … This motion appeared almost life-like so that for a minute I thought we were looking through a magnifier at some new form of creatures zooming around inside of a three-dimensional Petri dish. … Of all the things on orbit I have seen to date, this is by far the most amazing.”

Drop coalescence is so strongly hindered by the absence of gravity that it poses a unique challenge for engineers designing fluids handling equipment for spacecraft.

Click here to read the full article:

http://www.spaceflight.nasa.gov/station/crew/exp6/spacechronicles17.html

 
Description
Videos to Download
Quicktime
MPEG
sphere

Dr. Pettit has made a large water sphere on a 50 mm (diameter) wire loop. He shows how the water acts as a magnifier.

Quicktime Movie
~3.7 mb

MPEG Movie
~1.2 mb

sphere

Dr. Pettit investigates the behavior of large air bubbles inside spheres of water on a 50 mm wire loop. A large bubble is formed by injecting air into a water sphere. Oscillations of the interior water/air surface can be seen as air is injected making the air bubble larger.

Quicktime Movie
~4.2 mb
MPEG Movie
~1.3 mb
sphere

Water spheres are created inside the air bubble inside the water sphere on a 50 mm wire loop. These small water spheres (approximately 2-6 mm) are seen to ‘roll around' the exterior of the air bubble and bounce linearly off the air bubble exterior. These small spheres also collide in ‘mid-air' without coalescing. The small water spheres eventually slow down and coalesce when they collide with each other or the large water sphere.

Quicktime Movie
~4.7 mb
MPEG Movie
~2.1 mb
sphere

A small water sphere (approximately 5 mm) rolls around the exterior of an air bubble inside the 50 mm water sphere held in place by a wire loop. The small water sphere speed slows until it coalesces with the large water sphere at which point an even smaller water sphere (about 3 mm) is ejected and begins bouncing around inside the air bubble.

Quicktime Movie
~2.7 mb
MPEG Movie
~920 kb
sphere

A small water sphere (about 5 mm) rolls around the exterior of an air bubble inside the 50 mm water sphere. The path of the small water sphere is in a vertical plane nearly aligned with the camera. Other smaller water spheres are also faintly seen rolling around the air bubble exterior.

Quicktime Movie
~2.1 mb
MPEG Movie
~864 kb
sphere

Dr. Pettit blows a puff of air on a large water sphere and the fluid oscillates with constructive and destructive wave patterns reflecting back and forth across the water sphere.

Quicktime Movie
~3.8 mb
MPEG Movie
~1.5 mb

Aside from the visual impressiveness of these experiments, the results of these demonstrations may lead to more advanced space science discoveries and inspire the next generation of NASA explorers.

 

Space Operations Project Office
NASA's Water Balloon Experiments Make Quite a Splash
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SFS Internal (NASA GRC only)  

Photo of the Deployment of a Large Liquid Column in Low-gravity
The Deployment of a Large Liquid Column in Low-gravity
 
Photo of the Breakup of a Large Liquid Column in Low-gravity
The Breakup of a Large Liquid Column in Low-gravity
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