SODI-DCMIX hardware at ESA's technical heart ESTEC in The Netherlands.
Fluids and gases are never at rest, even if they appear to be when viewed by the naked eye. Molecules are constantly moving and colliding even though there is no microscope powerful enough to see it. Scientists are interested in observing and measuring how these movements combined with temperature changes lead to it’s the fluid’s constituents redistributing as they reveal important, practical information such as how fluids mix or separate in different conditions.
Creating accurate models of how fluids warm up and spread is harder than it might seem. School physics classes can work out how long it would take to boil a litre of water, but what if the water were mixed with oil or a multitude of different liquids?
A mixture on the International Space Station is free from the constraints of gravity and will only react to temperature. SODI-DCMIX exploits this fact to record concentration gradients in mixtures in space to understand how molecules behave in liquids.
The data from this third version of SODI-DCMIX will be stored on flash disks and returned to the international team of researchers on Earth later this year.