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Professor Satwindar Sadhal's Experiment on the Space Shuttle Discovery

More than thirty six years after he made history as the first American to orbit the Earth, Senator John H. Glenn, Jr. returned to space as part of a multi-national crew with the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery in late October. The flight, designated STS-95, involved more than eighty scientific experiments investigating mysteries that span the realm from the inner universe of the human body to studies of our own Sun and its solar activity. One of the experiments on Discovery was Internal Flows in a Free Drop (IFFD) whose principal investigator is Professor Satwindar Sadhal. IFFD was also an experiment of the Columbia missions STS-83 and STS-94.

Internal Flows in a Free Drop (IFFD)

Surface tension is the property of a liquid's surface that, like a skin, holds it together. Investigators want to measure the internal fluid flows induced by the acoustic field and areas of different temperature on the surfaces of the drops. Researchers want to measure the surface tension of the drops. This investigation uses acoustic energy or sound to remotely control the position and motion of free-floating drops of liquid in the experiment facility.

Findings may have applications for improving manufacturing processes on Earth and in space by providing new techniques for accurately measuring the properties of a liquid. This will allow manufacturers to better predict the behavior of a liquid during processing and, consequently, control the process to produce materials with more desirable properties. Results of this experiment may be relevant to many processes in chemical manufacturing industries, such as petroleum, cosmetics, and food services.

Free, single drops will be deployed in the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MGBX), then positioned and manipulated using sound waves. Droplets will be heated unevenly to cause fluid flow within the droplets. Tracer particles in the drops will allow researchers to see and record the movement of the drops and internal flows at various temperatures.

Professor Paul Ronney Alternate on NASA Space Shuttle Mission

Experiments Conceived by Professor Ronney and Professor Satwindar Sadhal Conducted on Columbia

In January 1997, Professor Paul Ronney was selected to be a backup astronaut and ground controller for flight STS-83. Space shuttle Columbia launched in April 1997, but had to return to Earth only four days into the mission due to a defective power generator. NASA made the decision to send Columbia back into orbit in July with the same crew and experiments that flew in the aborted science mission. Flight STS-94 was the first time in 36 years of U.S. human spaceflight that entire crew had flown in orbit twice.

Although Professor Ronney did not get the chance to replace one of the two payload specialists on either of the flights, he served as crew-interface coordinator for experiments. He still hopes to be given the opportunity to go into space someday.

USC Chronicle on Professor Ronney

Professor Ronney's own experiment on flame balls was investigated on the missions. The Structure of Flame Balls at Low Lewis Number (SOFBALL) explores the behavior of newly discovered flame phenomena called "flame balls". These spherical, apparently stable, stationary flame structures observed only in microgravity provide a unique opportunity to study the interactions of the two most important processes necessary for combustion (i.e., chemical reaction and heat and mass transport) in the simplest possible configuration. The previously unobtainable experimental data would provide a comparison with models of flame stability and flame propagation limits that are crucial both for fire safety assessment and for the design of efficient, clean-burning combustion engines.

Another experiment on Columbia was Professor Satwindar Sadhal's Internal Flows in a Free Drop (IFFD). The purpose of the investigation was to assess the capability of current non-contact and remote manipulation techniques for the control of the position and motion of free liquids in microgravity and to attempt the first measurement of thermocapillary flows in a totally free drop.

Professor Fokion Egolfopoulos Makes a New Friend

At a recent fundraiser in Los Angeles, Professor Egolfopoulos met President Bill Clinton. The two conversed about various topics during the course of the evening. Professor Egolfopoulos said that the President was very down-to-earth and genuinely nice and that it was an honor to have met him.