Analysis in the drop tower

 A candle flame in weightlessness
zum Bild A candle flame in weightlessness

What is weightlessness? What is gravity? What is weightlessness? What is gravity? Why does an apple on Earth fall to the ground and float away from an astronaut on the International Space Station? Isaac Newton wrote it: The masses of two objects gravitate towards one another. Gravity defines planets’ orbits and the structure of the universe. How can we influence this force? Can it be overcome completely here on Earth? What consequences would this have on objects in weightlessness?

Research in weightlessness – sometimes the only road to success

 Astronaut Susan J. Helms on board the ISS
zum Bild Astronaut Susan J. Helms on board the ISS

Because gravity masks many phenomena, experiments in weightlessness can be the only way of explaining them. The physical effects of gravity, for example, can only be discovered in an environment without it. This is an essential prerequisite if we are to find out how living organisms perceive gravity, how casting processes for modern metal alloys might be optimised and how visual perception in humans is dependent on our sense of balance. Research in weightlessness extends our knowledge of life on Earth.

 Drop capsule with a wireless camera
zum Bild Drop capsule with a wireless camera

Counting down to the free fall

How can we experiment in weightlessness? Try it yourself! In a miniature drop tower we achieve 0.6 sec of weightlessness over a distance of 2 metres. Will this short period of weightlessness influence a candle flame or water? With the help of a video system you will be able to watch your experiments in slow motion. At the end of the experiment, you will understand the physical characteristics of weightlessness and also know how an astronaut manages to empty a liquid out of a container without losing a single floating droplet.

Further reading: Weightlessness in free fall

Dr. rer.-nat. Richard Bräucker
German Aerospace Center

Tel: +49 (0)2203 601-3093

Fax: +49 (0)2203 601-13093

E-Mail: Richard.Braeucker@dlr.de
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Microgravity (http://www.dlr.de/schoollab/en/Portaldata/24/Resources/dokumente/kp/Experimentbeschreibung_Schwerelosigkeit_140714_GB.pdf)