September 20, 2004
Posted by scott at September 20, 2004 02:34 PM
Spaceflightnow is carrying this article on the "Sloshsat-FLEVO" satellite, an innovative effort meant to study fluid dynamics in a microgravity environment. By lofting what seems to essentially be a 10 gallon fish tank full of de-ionized water into a low earth orbit, scientists are hoping to refine and improve existing fluid dynamic models through real-world experimentation. This could have long-reaching effects on, for example, space craft design by making fuel tank installations more efficient and reliable.
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wonder how they're going to keep the water from freezing...
The picture showed solar panels. I bet it's heavily insulated and equipped with electric heaters.
Hmm. One of the quandries I've heard about space is that it's incredibly cold, yet at the same time a near-perfect insulator. (It is a vaccuum, after all.) Supposedly all the liquid needs is heat (likely from sunlight warming it in the solar panels, possibly supplemented by an internal heater), and the vaccuum of space provides the insulation.
While it makes sense, in a way, I'd like to find out more on the subject. Does anyone have any links to information on the actual effects of space on substances and equipment exposed to it (instead of the reams and reams of zero-g experimental data that NASA happily posts all over its website)?
I don't have anything, but I'm remembering some key points from the whole Apollo 13 thing - that they were slowly freezing. I agree, space is a near vacuum, so things shouldn't freeze quickly. However, it's that near part that makes freezing possible. I don't know how far down things go - I don't think it's absolute zero, but it is damn cold. Alternatively, if you leave yourself in direct sunlight, I think it gets frickin' hot really quickly...