Preparing the VIP-GRAN experiment for the 72nd ESA parabolic flight campaign. Parabolic flights treat passengers and experiments to a rollercoaster ride, flying angled at 49º 20 times per flight. They are used to conduct short-term scientific and technological investigations in microgravity and reduced gravity, to test instrumentation before use in space, to validate operational and experimental procedures, and to train astronauts for spaceflight.
Somewhat unintuitively, larger particles move to the top when shaken – this is why the person to finish a packet of cornflakes ends with all the smaller crumbs. The VIP-GRAN team is looking into how particles behave in in reduced gravity to understand the underlying physics in detail. For this flight they are investigating the jamming of particles as they flow through small openings. This can be an annoyance on Earth when salt get stuck in the shaker for example, but the phenomenon is influenced by gravity and the researchers want to know more. This will be the ninth flight for the VIP-GRAN team and who are working towards having a version of their experiment fly on the International Space Station with even more weightless time.