News from the ISS

The GRASP is participating to the FOAM-S experiment [1,2], which aims to study the influence of microgravity on the foamability of liquid solutions.  The experiment benefited from a flight opportunity to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2009 during the stay of astronaut Frank DeWinne. In this project, the astronaut had to shake tubes containing various liquid solutions such as pure liquid, protein-based solutions, antifoam agents, … and even chocolate mousse ! After shaking, the tubes are illuminated by a laptop screen and videos are recorded in order to study the stability of the bubbles.

It has been demonstrated [1] that non-foaming liquid solutions on Earth are able to generate a certain amount of foam in space ! Moreover, foams are found to be superstable in space.  A bubbly liquid state has been identified when pure water solutions are considered. These first results were quite surprising, and a lot of fundamental questions are still open [1].

A second series of FOAM-S experiments was performed during the recent stay of André Kuipers (2012) on ISS. We are still waiting for the data. We are sure that the results will be of great interest for foam scientists ! On the pictures below, Frank de Winne in 2009 and André Kuiper in 2012 present the FOAM-S experiment.

dewinne and kuipers on the international space station foam-s

On the video below, André Kuipers explain how foam is affected by gravity.

References and links :

[1] N.Vandewalle, H.Caps, G.Delon, A.Saint-Jalmes, E.Rio, L.Saulnier, M.Adler, A.L.Biance, O.Pitois, S.Cohen-Addad, R.Hohler, D.Weaire, S.Hutzler, D.Langevin, Foam Stability in Microgravity, J. Phys. Conf. Series 327, 012024 (2011) – PDF
[2] Page on the ESA website about our experiment.
[3] ISS on Wikipedia
[4] Current location of the ISS
[5] Thin films physics in microgravity (by Astronaut Don Petit)

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About nicovdw

Professor in Physics
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