Astronauts Drink Coffee in Space Out of Zero-Gravity Cup

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Without gravity, it’s difficult — if not impossible — to predict how a liquid will behave. To develop a better understanding of fluids in microgravity, a Capillary Flow Experiment is being conducted onboard the International Space Station.

We now know that if two solid surfaces meet at a narrow-enough angle, fluids in microgravity naturally flow along the join, with no pumping required. As a result of this discovery, Professor of Physics Mark Weislogel of Portland State University and his colleagues have been granted a patent for a Zero Gravity Coffee Cup.

Astronaut Don Pettit, who worked with the Capillary Flow Experiment during his time on board the ISS, helped invent the cup. One side has a sharp interior corner and capillary forces send fluid flowing along the channel and into the drinker’s mouth. Pettit said:

As you sip, more fluid keeps coming, and you can enjoy your coffee in a weightless environment — clear down to the last drop. This may well be what future space colonists use when they want to have a celebration.

Check out the video above to see how the Zero Gravity Cup works.

Image: NASA Science

This article originally published at PSFK

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