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Thank You for Flying the ‘Vomit Comet’: Using Parabolic Flights to Examine Quantitatively the Stability of Liquid Bridges Under Varying Total Body Force – Greg DiLisi

Date: Mon. April 20th, 2015, 12:30 pm-1:30 pm
Location: Rockefeller 221

Liquid bridges were flown aboard a Boeing 727-200 aircraft in a series of parabolic arcs that produced multiple periods of microgravity. During the microgravity portion of each arc, g_eff , the effective total body acceleration due to external forces became negligibly small so that cylindrical liquid bridges could be suspended across two coaxial support posts. Near the bottom of each arc, g_eff slowly increased to a maximum of 1.84g, causing the liquid bridges to deform and in some cases collapse. Although the physics of liquid bridges subject to varying total body force is well-established and has been analyzed extensively both theoretically and experimentally, specific hardware was designed to vary g_eff in a precise way that overcomes the gravity-related limitations and high g-jitter associated with parabolic flights. Bridge-stability was examined for axial and lateral orientations with respect to by measuring the slenderness ratio as a function of Bond number at the instant of bridge-collapse. Results exhibit remarkable agreement with theory as well as with the experimental results obtained in a magnetic levitation-based experiment. The parabolic flight method offers technical originality and provides experimental insights for researchers in the microgravity field. Here we present hardware development, experimental considerations, and results, and demonstrate that parabolic flight is a viable alternative to extant techniques for quantitative experiments on fluids.

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