Friday, October 21, 2016

Can Water Bounce?

With the earth becoming more settled and globalization constantly increasing, the sights of scientists and explorers have turned to the stars and the bottoms of the oceans. In our attempts to push further into space, there have been incredible advancements in technology, bio-organics, and the preparation that goes into space travel. In order to further our ability to travel and potentially live in space and on other planets, we need to create better systems that can exist and sustain life.

To do so, scientists at Portland State University designed a setup where droplets of water were dropped down a tower, while placed on a surface. The free-fall of the surface lead to the sensation of "no gravity" for the water, and it therefore bounced off the surface and became a droplet. From this event, the observers could look at a host of concepts, including hydrophobic interactions, fluid mechanics, droplet velocity and ejection as a function of drop volume.
These advancements will be crucial to better travel and life sustainability as bubbles and droplets often become problematic when in space. Knowing more about their function and mechanics in a free-fall state allow us to create better water processing systems, coolants, and sustainable habitats.

Looking at the experiment itself, there are hydrophobic interactions, which are therefore a force to eject the puddle off of the surface to become a droplet. Therefore there is an inelastic collision occurring, between the water and the surface, a force creating that collision depending on its hydrophobic interactions. Also, once the droplet is formed and off the surface, it reaches free-fall, meaning no gravity. Therefore the puddle condenses to a droplet based on surface tension and the adhesion of the water to itself. A better understanding of how water acts in space would greatly enhance our ability to explore and potentially start new life out of the Earth's environment.

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