Two 10th-grade students wanted to know what happens when you wring out a water-soaked washcloth in zero gravity. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who currently lives on the International Space Station, was happy to oblige.
Hadfield used a tightly packed washcloth (which he remarks looks like a hockey puck) that was available on the ISS. Rather than dipping the cloth into a vessel — which wouldn’t hold water in space — Hadfield squirted water on the material.
Once the cloth was soaking wet, Hadfield twisted the rag, and the water began to form a gel-like tube. “Because of the surface tension of the water, it actually runs along the surface of the cloth and then up into my hand, almost like you had Jello on your hands,” explained Hadfield.
The students who posed the question — Kendra Lemke and Meredith Faulkner from Lockview High School in Nova Scotia — won the Canadian Space Agency’s international science competition for their experiment on surface tension in space.
Homepage image courtesy of the Canadian Space Agency