The remote Jiuquan Space Launch Centre in Gansu province, China. Containers of highly pressurised crude oil will be launched into space from here to help improve our knowledge of oil reservoirs buried kilometres underground.
The Soret Coefficient in Crude Oil experiment will measure how hydrocarbon molecules redistribute when the temperature is not uniform. Learning how complex liquids behave is of interest to the petroleum industry and academia, who can apply the data to model real-life conditions of oil reservoirs deep underground. These measurements can only be performed in weightlessness.
Set for launch on China’s SJ-10 satellite on 6 April 2016, the experiment consists of six sturdy cylinders, each containing just one millilitre of crude oil but compressed up to 500 times normal pressure at sea level on Earth – making it one of the highest-pressure items ever launched into space.