In the Flying Classroom, Alexander will use small items to demonstrate several principles of physics in microgravity to students aged 10–17 years.
A gyroscope, viscous liquid and sweets are some of the objects he will use to talk about motion, foam and particle agglomeration.
Alexander will perform six experiments and demonstrations. All of them, except the Rosetta–Philae docking demonstration were tested on a parabolic flight campaign in Bordeaux, France, in 2013.
Rosetta–Philae docking demo
One of the highlights of this Flying Classroom will be a demonstration of ESA’s Rosetta mission, which will attempt to put a lander on a comet in November 2014.
This experiment will visualise the difficulties of landing on an object when there is little gravitational pull. Alexander will try to show the landing strategy in a simple way using the weightless environment of the Space Station.
Landing scenarios with various difficulty levels will be attempted: from landing on a rotating ‘comet’ that is not moving and landing on one that is both rotating and moving.
Science can also be sweet. Alexander will fill zipper bags with sugar, sweets and hard mints.
The experiment will demonstrate the behaviour of weightless matter floating freely.
After inflating the bags and a vigorous shaking, the particles will collect together, forming structures as planets and dust particles do in space.
This experiment will demonstrate the unusual properties of a bouncing putty, a toy made of silicone polymers.
Alexander will throw a small ball of putty at different speeds and at a distance of 30 cm towards a small square of similar material placed perpendicularly to the trajectory of the ball.
Will the toy stick or bounce off the target depending on its velocity?
Foaming of pure water
Foam decays much more slowly in microgravity than on the ground. Alexander will test this principle on the Station.
He will generate foam by shaking water and air in a syringe. He will fill syringes with different volumes and ratios of water and air before sealing them and shaking the syringes vigorously. He will observe the stability of the foam for about a minute.
Different ratios will produce different quality foams with different stabilities. Alexander will learn together with the students that the stability of the foam is higher than on Earth.
Alexander will make own gyroscope in space out of two CD players connected by a pole.
This experiment will show the stability of a gyroscope’s angular momentum. Students will see how the frame of reference rotates due to the Space Station’s trajectory around Earth.
Last update: 8 May 2014