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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Science Off The Sphere: An Astronaut's Own Experiments In Space

Right now, in orbit around the Earth is the ISS, the International Space Station.  Aboard is a curious astronaut, Don Pettit, who in his spare time conducts zero-gravity experiments of his own creation.  His playful curiosity is endearing, and his experiments engaging.

Unfortunately, his Main Page doesn't have an RSS feed.  It's easy to get hooked on the series.  I'll make sure to post new episodes as they come out.

"Knitting Needle Experiment"
In episode 1 of Science off the Sphere, Don ionizes a knitting needle.  He squirts drops of water at it, which then fall into "orbit" around the needle.  Although it's electromagnetism at work here, the orbit is very similar to gravity.

Video Credit: NASA / Don Pettit / ISS

Episode 2 of Science off the Sphere: Bistronauts
Don demonstrates their counter-intuitive zero-g open beverages.  Straws are just too easy.  Astronauts can drink out of open containers too, just like on Earth.

Video Credit: NASA / Don Pettit / ISS

"Thin Film Physics"
In Episode 3 of Science off the Sphere, Don plays with liquid surface tension.  It normally takes a high speed camera on Earth in order to get some really intense fluid dynamics footage.  Up in zero-g however, Don easily shows us some really cool liquid movement.

Video Credit: NASA / Don Pettit / ISS

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