Fighting Fire In Zero Gravity

Sep 15, 13 Fighting Fire In Zero Gravity

One of the most dangerous aspects of manned space flight is the threat of fire. Orbiting hundreds of miles above the Earth it is not possible to “leave the building,” so to speak, unless one completely abandons the orbital vehicle. So, astronauts need to understand how to deal with fire in space and, more importantly, how fire behaves in a zero gravity environment.

Simulating these conditions is not trivial, especially when the goal is to get a detailed understanding of how flame behaves in a variety of low gravity conditions. But scientists at NASA’s Glenn Research Center are conducting clever experiments that will result in safer space travel in the future.

To learn more, I traveled to Glenn to speak with some of the researchers carrying out this work. You can see what I found for yourself in our inaugural episode of Tomorrow’s Discoveries, a new web series developed exclusively by redOrbit where we visit the worlds leading research facilities to get a first hand look at the research being done today that will shape the technology of tomorrow.

Be sure to check back, because in the coming weeks we will be seeing first hand the engines that will power the first manned missions to Mars, explore materials being developed with incredible strength and lightness, witness the amazing process of designing a space craft, and much more. All on redOrbit’s Tomorrow’s Discoveries!

Image Credit: Thinkstock.com

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John P. Millis, Ph.D., is professor of physics and astronomy at Anderson University, in Anderson Indiana. He teaches a wide variety of courses while maintaining an active research program in high energy astrophysics.

His research focus is on pulsars, pulsar wind nebulae, and supernova remnants. Using the VERITAS gamma-ray observatory in southern Arizona, he studies the very high energy radiation from these dynamic sources to extract information about their formation and emission mechanisms. Dr. John received his B.S. in physics at Purdue University and remained there for the completion of his Ph.D., where he focused on High Energy Astrophysics. When not teaching or writing about physics and space, Dr. John enjoys spending time with his family, tickling the keys on his piano and playing a wide variety of sports.

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