Fluid mechanics -- Research -- United States, Reduced gravity environments -- Fluid dynamics, Capillary flow
This year marks the 55th anniversary of the first fluid physics experiment performed aboard a spacecraft during the Mercury-Atlas 7 mission. Since then, NASA has conducted over 80 fluids physics experiments aboard a variety of spacecraft, many of which have enhanced the understanding of large-length-scale capillary phenomena relevant to liquid management in the weightless state. As both celebration and demonstration, the Mercury-Atlas 7 fluids experiment is revisited in light of the current understanding of large-length-scale capillary fluidics. Employing a modern numerical tool, a rich variety of experimental outcomes are discovered that were not observed during the flight experiment. Interestingly, experimental support for these “newly computed” outcomes draws from 54-year-old drop-tower data collected by the original NASA investigator team. A direction forward for advanced tankage design is highlighted in summary.
Weislogel, M. M., Chen, Y., Masica, W. J., Kohl, F. J., & Green, R. D. (2017). Fifty-Plus-Year Postflight Analysis of First Fluid Experiment Aboard a Spacecraft. AIAA Journal.