Let’s first start at gravity. What is it?
Gravity is what pulls people down toward Earth. When you jump, gravity makes you come back down. When you are walking, it holds you on the ground. View the One Minute Physics Video for more information and examples that help illustrate this point. In this episode, the basic nature of gravity is discussed.
What is microgravity?
- Microgravity is when things seem to be weightless.
- “Micro-” means “very small.”
- Microgravity is the near absence of gravity.
- It is NOT zero gravity as many people think.
- It is a condition of free fall in a gravity field.
- A good example is when astronauts float in their spacecraft.
- Microgravity is when the pull of gravity is not very strong.
- In microgravity, it is easy to move heavy objects. Astronauts can even move things that weigh hundreds of pounds with just the tips of their fingers!
Have you ever experienced microgravity?
You may have. Have you ever rode a roller coaster or jumped off a diving board? If you have… then you have experienced microgravity.
It is this “free fall” period in these activities when the microgravity occurs and of course it only lasts for a short period of time. That’s what makes it so fun!
EXPERIENCE IT! Educational programs are available through the Zero Gravity Corporation!
In this video, Science Bob and 30 other teachers launched 2,000 ping pong balls in zero gravity as part of Northrup Grumman Foundation’s Weightless Flights of Discovery program. Also joining was Kerry Sanders of the Today Show. Weightless flight is accomplished by flying in parabolas in reserved airspace aboard a modified 727 aircraft. Each weightless experience lasts about 30 seconds.
How do you drink liquids in space? When Dr. Don Pettit lived aboard the International Space Station in 2002, he became known for his “Saturday Morning Science” sessions, during which he would demonstrate really cool, simple microgravity experiments. In his video, which he later narrated for Mission Control, Dr. Pettit demonstrated his take on a zero-gravity coffee cup…
Another great Saturday Morning Science lesson titled: Rotating Solid Bodies. Would you be able to tell the difference between a hard boiled egg and a fresh raw egg just by observing the rotating attributes? Watch the video and see…
Why study Microgravity?
As we enter the Space Age…new materials must be researched, designed, and understood in order to meet the needs of this type of progress. The old materials of the 20th century does not meet these new 21st century needs, those old materials are: titanium aircraft parts, silicon-based semiconductors and lightweight aluminum alloys. Microgravity allows new materials to be developed which can not be made on Earth because of gravity. These new materials can be used to speed up future computers, reduce pollution, improve fiber optics, and enable medical breakthroughs to cure diseases.
Read, Explore, Question…
SPACE SCIENCE NEWS ARCHIVE (great resource)
Ideas on what to research:
- Isothermal Dendritic Growth - Studying the Growth of Dendrites
READ – What is a dendrite?
NASA TECHNICAL REPORTS – The Isothermal Dendrite Growth Experiment
- MEPHISTO- Studying Solidification of Metal Alloys
- Infrared Imaging Crystals Research- Studying Semiconductor Crystal Growth
- Accelerometer Development and Experiments – the “Micro-G environment”- understanding the forces the Micro-G experiments undergo
- Combustion Research- Studying the effects of air currents on the flames without the additional complication of convection-driven air flow at the same time.
Are you interested in Experimental Design? Then I encourage you to
Take your Experiment to Space!
Read about the Student Space Flight Experiments Program and get started now. The SSEP (Student Space Flight Experiments Program) This is a new U.S. National STEM Initiative for Grades 5-16. This initiative is targeted to inspire the next generation of America’s scientists and engineers! Deadline for submission: September 12, 2012
Learning Communities –
Get Involved NOW!
The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education announced a historic Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) opportunity on the International Space Station (ISS). Each participating community will be provided all launch services to fly a real microgravity research mini-laboratory on ISS from early April to mid-May, 2013, and a kit for assembly of their mini-lab. The community’s experiment design competition allows student teams to design real microgravity experiments vying for their community’s reserved mini-lab slot on ISS!
In this video, NASA Public Affairs Office commentator Pat Ryan talks with Dr. Tara Ruttley, ISS Associate Program Scientist, about the science payload carried in the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, the impact of commercial cargo ships on science activities and the ISS Research & Development Conference in June.
**HINT – When designing experiments, review the experiments that were selected to help guide you in the process as well as help you form some creative questions regarding space research!
Mission 3 participation is open to the following five categories of communities:
- Pre-College (the core focus for SSEP) in the U.S., (grades 5-12), with a participating school district even an individual school providing a stunning, real, on-orbit RESEARCH opportunity to their upper elementary, middle, and high school students
- 2-Year Community Colleges in the U.S., (grades 13-14), where the student body is typically from the local community, providing wonderful pathways for community-wide engagement
- 4-Year Colleges and Universities in the U.S., (grades 13-16), with an emphasis on Minority-Serving Institutions, where the program fosters interdisciplinary collaboration across schools and departments, and an opportunity for formal workforce development for science majors!
- Communities in the U.S. led by Informal Education or Out-of-School Organizations, (e.g., a museum or science center, a homeschool network, a boy scout troop), because high caliber STEM education programs must be accessible to organizations that promote effective learning beyond the traditional classroom
- Communities Internationally: in European Space Agency (ESA) member nations, European Union (EU) member nations, Canada, and Japan, with participation through NCESSE Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education. Communities in other nations should explore the potential for their participation by contacting the Institute
Time Available for Experiment Design: Your Student Teams, together with their Teacher Facilitators, will have at least 8 weeks (September 17 to November 9, 2012) to: begin the program in classrooms across your community, design experiments, and write and submit 5-page proposals, with proposals due by November 9, 2012.
TIME CRITICAL ~Letters of Commitment from Participating Communities: due September 12, 2012
***Get a step up on your thinking process***
LEARN MORE at The Flight Experiment Design Competition Website!