Transcript for NASA Connect - Who Added the Micro To Gravity

[Jennifer:] Hi I am Jennifer
Pulley and welcome to NASA Connect,

the show that connects
you to the world of math,

science, technology and NASA.

Today we're at NASA Glen
Research Centre in Cleveland Ohio

and this is the zero
gravity facility and it's

where NASA conducts
micro-gravity experiment.

You have seen micro-gravity.

You have seen it in videos of
the International Space Station

and a NASA's KC one thirty five.

On today's program,

we'll investigate how NASA
researchers conduct research

in a micro-gravity environment.

You will observe NASA researchers
are using the math concepts

of measurements, ratios
and graphing

to research combustion science
and the importance of Fire Safety

on the International Space Station.

In your class room you will do cool
hands on activity to learn more

about gravity by collecting,
organizing, graphing

and analyzing data and using the
instructional technology activity

you will investigate apparent
weight to see how Astronauts

in space can feel weightless.

NASA researchers use the math
concepts of ratios, measurements

and graphing all the time.

First, let's review ratios.

A ratio is a comparison
of two quantities.

For examples, NASA
Glen Research Centre

and NASA Marshal Space
Light Centre,

which are the NASA facilities

that primarily conduct
micro-gravity research,

are two of ten NASA centers
located across the country.

A ratio can be written as a
fraction and it can be written

in any form that is equal or
equivalent to that fraction.

So, the ratio two tenths can
also be written as two is to ten,

twenty percent, twenty one
hundred and point two zero.

When you work with ratios,
you can express fractions,

decimals and percentages.

To learn how NASA researchers,
a private concept of ratios

to the micro-gravity environment
lets go see Doctor Roger

[inaudible], he is
the senior scientist

for the International
Space Station.

[Jennifer:] Hello!



[Roger:] Hello, Jennifer.

Math is really important
to every one but especially

to scientist and engineers.

We use ratios in every
aspect of research

in a micro-gravity environment.

[Jennifer:] So Doctor.

[inaudible], what is microgravity?

[Roger:] Micro gravity is a
condition where the effects

of gravity arm appeared
to be very much smaller

than they normally
are here on Earth.

The prefix micro comes
from the Greek root micros,

which simply means 'small' having

in scientific metrics
system, micro literally

[inaudible] one part
in a million or one

to one million .We use
the term micro-gravity

to describe the environment
on board to spacecraft

in orbit around the earth.

Gravity is

[inaudible], we usually call it
high gravity if it's more than here

on Earth and low gravity if
it's less than here on Earth.

And example of low gravity
environment would be the moon;

the gravity on the moon is about
one sixth of that here on Earth.

[Jennifer:] Yeh!

One sixth that's a ratio.

[Roger:] That's right.

What is the quantity being
compared in this statement.

The gravity at the Moon is
about one sixth that on Earth.

If you said, the Moon's gravity
to the Earth's gravity they

[inaudible] starting to
understanding ratios.

Ratio one sixth means
that the gravity

at the Moon is six times
smaller than gravity on Earth.

We sometimes use the
term micro-gravity

to describe the condition
where gravity is not small

but appears to be small.

This is a condition experienced on

[inaudible] space craft such as the
International Space Station or ISS.

This space shuttle
and all objects in

[inaudible] that's may appearing

to floored inside the space
shuttle really I am not floating

but falling at the same

[inaudible] of shuttle so to
the observer it looks like

I'm floating.

[Jennifer:] So micro-gravity
is not really zero gravity?

[Roger:] That's right, It
diminishes through out very quickly

with distance so it's weak

around the space station
than it is on Earth.

But it's sixty four hundred
kilometer from the surface

to the sinner of the earth
which is considered the origin

of the Earth's gravity field.

Then the ISS is only another four
hundred kilometer above the surface

of the Earth, so at that altitude
the gravitational acceleration

still about eighty nine percent
or eight nine one hundreds of that

of the Earth's surface.

If the gravitational
acceleration on the surface

of the Earth is nine point
eight meter per seconds square.

What would be the gravitational
acceleration be four hundred

kilometers above the
surface of the earth?

[Jennifer:] Let's see, you would
approximate the gravitational

acceleration at four
hundred kilometers

above the Earth's surface
by calculating the product

of nine point eight
and point eight nine

or eighty nine one hundred.

[Roger:] That's correct, that
not applying nine point eight

and point eight nine we see
the gravitational acceleration

at four hundred kilometer
above the Earth's surface is

about eight point seven
meter per seconds square,

comparing nine point eight

and eight point seven meter
per seconds square gravity

at the altitude

[inaudible] this is nearly
the same is that on Earth.

But given the images of
floating Astronaut it appears

that gravity is reduced by
much more than eleven percent.

[Jennifer:] So Dr.

[inaudible] what is happening?

[Roger:] Gravity attracts
all objects toward the sinner

of the Earth at the same rate.

If I release two objects at
different ways they have room

to fall, they will accelerate
towards the sinner of the Earth

at the same rate until they meet
to resistance in the form of the

[inaudible] in other words

that will hit the
floor at the same time.

It supports of the floor that we
feel is our way then gravity is the

only force acting on a object

[inaudible] said to be a

[inaudible] called 'free fall'.

Object in 'free fall' can
be said to be weightless.

Imagine you have an
apple on the scale

which displays the apples weight,
if you drop the scale the apple

on the scale will fall together,

but the apple will no
longer compress to scale,

so the scale will show zero weight.

In the same way Astronauts
inside the ISS

or the space shuttle are
falling around the earth.

Unlike the apple on the
scale both the Astronauts

in the space craft free
fall by circling the earth

at approximately seven
thousand eight hundred

and seventy meter per second or
seventeen thousand miles per hour.

They are falling towards the
earth, they just never get there.

[Jennifer:] How are the concepts of
measurement and graphing important

to NASA researchers and scientists?

[Roger:] Research in space
environment gives scientist a tool

for looking at phenomenon ways as
just not possible here on Earth.

But these just gravities won't
take place without understanding

and applying the math concepts
of measurement and graphing.

To demonstrate how scientists

and researcher use these
concepts, Dr. Sandra

[inaudible] a micro-gravity
conversion scientist

at the NASA Glen Research
Center will tell us more.

[Jennifer:] Oh!

Great, thank you so much Dr.


[Roger:] Thank you
Jennifer, I enjoyed it.

[Jennifer:] Now, before
we visit Dr.

[inaudible] let's
review the math concepts

of measurement and graphing.

Measurement; it usually tells us
the size of something and consists

of a number and the unit.

For example, the gravitational
acceleration at the surface

of the earth is nine point
eight meters per second square,

nine point eight is the number

and meters per seconds
square is the unit.

The unit in the measurement
is a fixed quantity

with the size that is understood.

The number in a measurement
tells how many units there are

and what is being measured.

This allows us to compare the
size of what's beings measured

to the size of the unit.

For example, Dr.

[inaudible] indicated that the
gravitational acceleration four

hundred kilometers above the earth
surface is eight point seven meters

per second square units compared
to the gravitational acceleration

at the earth's surface which
is nine point eight meters per

second square units.

Notice that the unit of measurement
is the same for both numbers

and in case you are wondering
what does the unit meters per

second square mean.

Well one meter per Second Square

or one meter per second per
second means that for very second

of travel, the velocity
increases by one meter per second,

so if the acceleration due

to gravity is nine point eight
meters per second square then

for every second of travel
the velocity increases

by nine point eight
meters per second.

Okay guys, the next math concept
for today's show is graphing

and graphing is really important

because it creates a visual
representation or relationships

that may not be easily
determined using numbers alone

and there are many
different types of graphs

that can be used visually
represent data.

There are biographs, circle
graph, line graph, victor graphs

and scatter graph,
just the name appeal.

For member who inducted graph
told us that gravity diminishes

as we get further and
further away from the earth,

we can represent this
visually with the graph.

The X-axis or horizontal axis
represents distance and the Y-axis

or vertical axis represents

From the graph you can
see the gravity decreases

with increasing distance.

So are you with me so far.

Good, let's go chat with the
Dr Sandra Elson here at NASA

[inaudible] research center.

>> How do you files in space travel
differently complies on earth.

From the position
versus time graph,

what type of relationship
exists to look frame rates?



>> Hey Dr Elson.

Hello Jennifer.

>> I am glad you able to
convince you facility today.

Thank you for asking me to
explain how use measurement

and graphing techniques
in our research?

>> So what kind of
research do you do here?

>> I do experiments in microgravity
combustion especially as it relates

to spacecraft fire safety.

You know Jennifer, we thought
as children that if it is a fire

in our house which first
to get out of the house

and call the fire department.

But in space factors is an option,
there are no fire departments

in space and you just
can walk outside.

A bad fire actually happens on
Russian Mere Space Station in 1997.

We need to understand fire
behavior in microgravity

so that we ill no harder will
avoid the fire as much as possible

and survive it, if it does occur.

>>And doctor Elson its sound
to me like you are saying

that fire behaves differently in
space and it does here on earth.

>> Very differently Jennifer.

>> Gravity is such a dominant
force and fires here on earth

that we take it for granted.

For example a wild
fire gravity dependent.

On earth wild fire spread uphill
much faster than downhill.

The reason for this is that the
heated air from the fire rises

up the hill and heats
the fuel like the grass,

trees and shrubs ahead of the
fire, blown into the wind,

the fires reach as long
and it can spread very fast

over the nice one fuel.

On the other hand, going downhill
the wind id fresh cool air being

drawn into the fire to
replace the rising how gases.

The vegetation remains cool
until the flames are very close.

The flames reach is very short and
it longer to heat up the cold fuel

and the flames spread more slowly.

In space fires like to go in
the exact opposite direction,

they like to spread against the
wind, while wild fires are blown

by the wind because
hot air doesn't rise

in a microgravity
environment, the only airflows

in an orbiting spacecraft
come from ventilation fans,

cooling fans and crew movements.

A fire, given a choice in this
microgravity environment will

preferentially spread
into the fresh air.

The flame doesn't have any
control over the airflow,

so it has to seek
out the fresh air.

The wind blown or down inside

of this flame is only receiving
polluted air that can changed smoke

and carbon-dye-oxide
but not much oxygen

because that's already
been consumed by the

up going further plan.

So, when the air flows from
the ventilation pans are low,

the down wind inside of the plan
cast spread off even not has fuel

and heat, it doesn't
have the oxygen.

In a microgravity environment

if we reduce the air flow even the
oxygen siding up on inside the plan

as trouble getting of
oxygen and it break

up into little frame works.

>> Okay, so how do you
measured or collected

on this instead flame less.

>> You know experiment we
use to drop in a wind tunnel.

>> The study with effective
air flow on the flame less.

>> When we dropped this
miniature wind tunnel,

we can get break period as you
of micro gravity here on earth.

>> We can measured the
effective air flow on the flame

by applying very lows to air flow

to a flame is it's basis
cloze attempt to a paper.

At this present we can measured
its position as function of time

and flat time and
position on a graph.

The following graph allows us to
compare the position versus time

from flame attracting.

The x-excess for horizontal excess
is the time measured in seconds

and the y-excess was vertical
excess is the position

of flame measured in
nanometers miters.

This graph represents of flame
that starts have uniformed

and after five seconds of travel
breaks up into the flame less.

The quick zero-zero represents

for the location whether uniformed
flame breaks up into flame less.

>> Okay Dr. Elson from
this there are PSPL

[inaudible] many relationships
between position and time.

Why as the slopped of the line
representing the uniformed flames

stepper the no line
representing the flame less?

>> That's a great
question Jennifer,

this strictness is slopped of
line tell thus the spread rate

or velocity of the flame.

So on this if I get this as
the slop of the line decreases

in the spread rate or
velocity decreases.

>> That's correct.

>> For this particular
test from the velocity

of the uniformed flame
was calculated

to be brief point formal need
for second and the velocity

of the flame rates was calculated
to be one point zero no for circum.

Over the flame with speared more
slowly they are very hard to detect

and they can fear up into big fear
again if we turn up the air flow.

Imagine if the action was
put out the player and turn

out the air circulation
system to clean up this smoke.

The player good play up again
allow I can see how important your

researches to the
safety of the Astronauts

on the bold the international
space station

and the space shuttle.

>>thank you so much Dr Elson

>> Thank you Jennifer.

>> Hi kids its now time
for our two cardio


>> [inaudible] fires and space
shuttle differently compare

on earth.

>>From the position
versus time graph,

look at the relationship
exist from you frame less.

>> What it this type of a
position versus time back tell you

>> Okay, let's review; we
highlighted the maths concept

of ratios, measurement and graphic.

Dr. Crow to apply the
concept of ratios to help us

to find mental gravity and Dr.
Elson explain you importance

of measurement in graphic well
conducting space graph fire

safety research.

Now, it your turn to apply this
maths concept in your classroom,

check out this programs
all some hands on activity.

>> Hi,

[inaudible]no side no school
and hear and North of Virginia.

>> NAASA connects as that to
show you these programs hands

on activity.

>> You can download the lesson
guide and listed material

to be NASA connect website.

>> Here to manage at this.

>> Students well apply techniques
to determine measurements,

use matrix measurement,
build mathematical knowledge

to investigation and

Collect, organized and
upgrade for analysis.

Build in understand
of macro-gravity.

>> Good morning class today's NASA
I said investigate our graphic

techniques, our help though

and understanding the
conceptual position,

velocity and acceleration

>> Teacher will find a location for
dropping three selected audience.

A set of

[inaudible] provides a
good variation in heights

without using ladders.

Mark-to-drop location in
even increments, if possible,

eight-ten drop stations
create a good graph

that students can easily view.

Measure each station
in meters or inches

and use a conversion one meter
equals three point two eight

one feet.

Organize students into group of
four, once each group selected

in different balls to use were
all their test graphs distributes

the student materials.

A student record or writes down
the height of each drop station

on the data collection chart.

A student timer records five drops

at each drop station only
the ball dropper should climb

to the drop site with the rest
remaining at ground level.

The student counter returns
to the ball to the dropper

and begins the countdown again

when everyone is ready average
the time for each drop station

and record on the
data collection chart.

Square the average time for
each drop station and record

on the data collection chart,
using height and average time data

for each drop station plot
a distance versus time graph

on drop data chart one using
height and average square time data

for each drop station plot a
distance versus time square graph

on drop data chart two.

The teacher will collect the
drop data charts from each group,

and compare the data on drop
data chart one for each ball.

And discuss the shape
the data points create.

Next overlay all drop data chart
one transparencies compare the

data simultaneously.

In the next comparison compare
the data on drop data char two

for each ball, and discuss the
shape the data points create.

Again overlay all drop data
chart two transparencies

to compare the data simultaneously.

>> Its time for questions.

Based on your observations project

[inaudible] will happen to
the acceleration, if you

[inaudible] drop from
a greater height.


[Christine:] I love thinking
the matter where each

of the ball from that

[inaudible] to the same.

>> Great answer Mr.

[inaudible] thank you.

>> Do the shape or surface of
the object drop have any affect

on the results explain?


[John:] I don't think that will
have any effect on this experiment

because reason object
such as a ball and the

[inaudible] is negligible.

But on the other hand if we really
use an object such as a piece

of paper or it will float down and

[inaudible] longer tape the ground.

>> Teachers if you
would like to help

to perform the preceding lesson
or any other NASA Connect weapon,

simply listen how weapon AIMM

[inaudible] who will be glad

to assist your class
and these activities.

>> Super job you guys hay did
you know that NASA is working

with the students to
develop new products

and new experiments
for Space Research.

Doctor John Plowmen a Professor
of Chemistry and Bio-Chemistry

at the University of Southern
Mississippi has some cool

applications for Micro Gravity
Research, which students just like

[inaudible] can be
working on some day.

>> Where is point

[inaudible] connection?

>> What is the relationship
between density and volume?

>> What is the trend in the
density versus temperature graph?

>> Hi! NASA's reduced
gravity program began in 1959,

but in the past five years students

from over one hundred schools
have performed experiments

in the micro gravity environment.

Several of my students
and I have flown

on the KC 135 NASA's
flying laboratory.

Its science has interesting,
challenging and fun.

One experiment we are conducting
involves making new space age

materials by a really cool process
called Frontal Polymerization

and the other involves studying
how molecules attract each other

in fluid that mix.

Everything is made up of
very, very small pieces

of stuff called molecules.

Molecules attract each other how
stronger they attract determines

if the stuff is a
liquid, solid or gas.

Some materials mix
completely, others do not.

Here something you can
try at home yourself.

We have waters here which has food

[inaudible] and syrup.

And as call syrupy and steered up,
it will make one continues liquid.

What if I take something that im
mixable with water like mineral oil

and poured into the water with food

[inaudible] and mix this
solution up, to a separate

into two layers with tank.

Water molecules attract
each other more strongly

than they attract older molecules
instead of water stay separate.


[inaudible] is a small molecule

that can be made upon
long chains of

[inaudible] connected end
to end called the polymer.

It's sort of like box cars
put together to form a train.

The mixing process
is called convection;

it's a term for liquid motion.

>> There are two ways in which
convection can spontaneously occur

in a liquid, one is
caused my gravity

and is called buoyancy
induce conduction.

Difference is between the
densities of the liquid,

make the lighter fluid rise and
separate from the heavier fluid,

another type of convection
is called interfacial tension

induce conduct.

>> Interfacial what's.

>> Interfacial tension
induce conduction.

>> Let's further term up.

First interfacial tension is like
the surface tension which holds

up a water bug when it
skittles crosses high.

The surface is a result

of the water molecules
attracting each other.

The healing surface here on earth
causes buoyancy induced conduction.

How can we study only
the convection cause

by interfacial affects level,

we need to eliminate
gravity or its affects.

We can never eliminate gravity

but by free following we can
create a system that acts has

as if there were no gravity.

Performing experiments
in way business allows us

to study phenomena
we can study on it

and to answer questions
we can answer down here.

>> By eliminating
buoyancy use conduction,

we sometimes can creates
a pre approaching crystals

and way business, they can help
researchers design new drugs,

eliminating buoyancy induce
convection can also help

to understand how to make better
semiconductors here on earth,

like the ones used
in your computer.

We take a lesson from
computer chip manufactures,

who use like to makes
the circuit pad,

Michel Gravity Research shows
us that you can create paddles

on fluids which would
not be allowed on earth,

where buoyancy convection mixes
up the apparent zero gravity.

My students and I have studying how
forces between molecules include

that mix and cause convection.

We use light as initiating
agent to make the

[inaudible] turning to the polymer.

By exposing the

[inaudible] to light
with the specific panel,

we hope to observe how the

[inaudible] in polymer
molecules flow on each other

for many minutes, we predicted
the two fluids will act like oil

on water but in the
long run the molecules

with refuses each other
can make a single fluid.

Why can we do the
experiment in the lab?

Because buoyancy during
convection was smear everything

out so there really is no way
on earth do the experiment,

we also studied a process called,

[inaudible] polymerization in
which plastic informs can be made

with the chemical reaction that
spreads out like a liquid plant.

Gases can be released by the
half reaction and makes bubbles

which can formed the foam,
of course bubbles float

in the liquid because of gravity.

But without the buoyant force
bubbles can become larger

in a microgravity environment.

>> Honey is math in you work.

>> Math is essential to our work.

For example, in order to predict
how gravity will cause convection

in our systems, we need to
prepare glass of the density

of our materials as a
function of temperature.

We use a special instrument
called a densitometer,

but we have to know how to use
a math to make sense of about


Let's look at some of
the data from my lab.

Here we applied density in the

[inaudible] and the
polymer in the Y-axis

and the temperature on the X-axis.

First notice at the density of
the polymer is higher than a


Next we can draw straight
line to the points.

The slope of which line is a
ratio of the changing density

to the change in temperature.

The density of the polymer
decreases zero point zero three

grams per cubic centimeters

for a fifty degree centigrade
increase in temperature.

The density of the

[inaudible] also decreases,

but it decreases point zero
four gram per cubic centimeter

for the same temperature change.

Remember that we said buoyancy
driven convection happens

because of differences in density.

And at the less density
liquids will float to the top.

The information from this graph,

tells us how the density
changes when we heat the

[inaudible] power and so we can
predict how much buoyancy driven

convection will occur
during experiments on Earth.

The graph also tells us
how much the volume changes

as we heat the liquids,
essential information

for designing our experiment on
the International Space Station.

>>: As we go farther and
farther from Earth into space,

we're going to be
required eventually

to make own materials in space.

Forms are just one of
the things we to look at.

Gaining and understanding

of the opportunities the
microgravity research today will be

valuable knowledge for you
young researchers of tomorrow

when we are ready for our
first man fly to Mars?

>>: Alright guys, its now
time for a Q card review.

>>: Where is buoyancy
in this connection?

>>: What is the relationship
between density and volume?

>>: What is the trend at the
density versus temperature graph?

>>: Okay, did you get all that.

Let's go visit

[inaudible] in his web domain.

>>: Hi and welcome to my domain.

NASA Connect has created a
really cool web activity help you

understand apparent way and to
see our Astronauts in outer space,

be awareless we also
have a second activity

to help you make an important
elevator design decision.

First be sure you have
the squeak plug in.

It can be downloaded

for free installation.

Once you have squeak plug

in installed you can
access the activity

at the NASA Connect website under

[inaudible] domain.

This activity is designed for use
by students, teachers and parents

in this school or home settings.

Now, you are ready to
start the activity.

On this site Norbert and

[inaudible] waiting in an elevator
for you to investigate what happens

when you accelerate the elevator.

[inaudible] your hands on
tight and want to try it

out on your own first.

Read the brief directions along the
left side of the screen and start

by trying to make Norbert and

[inaudible] weightless.

Then you should read the book
on the right side of the screen

for important definitions
brief interactivities,

exploration you should do and
challenges you should consider.

If you want more directions
before you start again

by reading the book.

Starting with the first page
and click the little right arrow

at the top center to go on.

To help you get a head start
velocity is the distance traveled

divided by the time it takes.

If the elevator moves Norbert and

[inaudible] downwards you will say
the velocity is a positive number.

To accelerate is to
change the velocity.

If you increase the velocity

in the downward direction you
will say the acceleration is a

positive number.

Then, if you increase the velocity

in an upward direction
the acceleration will be a

negative number.

Positive and negative numbers are
essential to describe motions.

Have fun and explore.

>> Well guys that wraps up
another episode of NASA Connect.

Got a comment question or
suggestion then e-mail us

at or
pick up a pen and write us

at NASA Connect, NASA Center
for Distance Learning,

NASA Langley Research Center Mail
Star four hundred Hampton Virginia

two three six eight one.

Teachers if you would like
a video tape of this program

and the accompanying
educators guide check

out the NASA Connect website.

So, until next time stay connected
to Math, Science, Technology

and NASA see you then.

>>: The gravity of the moon.

>>: Yeah.

>>: The gravity of the moon.

>>: The young researchers
of tomorrow.

>>: Blah, blah, blah, blah.


>>: What.

>>: Laugh.

>>: Let me look at it


>>: Dr

[inaudible], Jennifer.

>>: Captioning Funded by the
NEC Foundation of America


The Open Video Project is managed at the Interaction Design Laboratory,
at the School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill