Science & Exploration

Flying Classroom

1349 views 1 likes
ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / Blue dot

In the Flying Classroom, Alexander used 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 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

Play
$video.data_map.short_description.content
Demonstrating Rosetta’s Philae lander on the Space Station (short version)
Access the video

One of the highlights of this Flying Classroom was a demonstration of ESA’s Rosetta mission, which put a lander on a comet in November 2014.

This experiment visualised the difficulties of landing on an object when there is little gravitational pull. Alexander showed 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.

Particle agglomeration

Alexander testing particle experiment
Alexander testing particle experiment

Science can also be sweet. Alexander filled zipper bags with sugar, sweets and hard mints.

The experiment demonstrated the behaviour of weightless matter floating freely.

After inflating the bags and a vigorous shaking, the particles collected together, forming structures as planets and dust particles do in space.

Silly Putty

This experiment demonstrated the unusual properties of a bouncing putty, a toy made of silicone polymers. 

Alexander threw 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

Alexander Gerst space days
Alexander Gerst space days

Foam decays much more slowly in microgravity than on the ground. Alexander tested this principle on the Station.

He generated foam by shaking water and air in a syringe. He filled syringes with different volumes and ratios of water and air before sealing them and shaking the syringes vigorously. He observed the stability of the foam for about a minute.

Different ratios produced different quality foams with different stabilities. Alexander learned together with students that the stability of the foam is higher than on Earth.

Gyroscope

Alexander made own gyroscope in space out of two CD players connected by a pole.

This experiment showed the stability of a gyroscope’s angular momentum. Students see how the frame of reference rotates due to the Space Station’s trajectory around Earth.

Related Articles

Horizons logo
Science & Exploration

New Horizons for Alexander Gerst

29/05/2017 12518 views 134 likes
Open item
Alexander commander of ISS announcement
Science & Exploration

Alexander Gerst to be Space Station commander

18/05/2016 17043 views 87 likes
Open item
German President Gauck visits ESA in Darmstadt
Agency

German Head of State visits ESA Operations Centre

26/05/2014 2827 views 14 likes
Open item
HM Queen Beatrix and Italian President Napolitano at ESTEC
Agency

A royal and presidential visit to ESA’s technical heart

26/10/2012 1414 views 3 likes
Open item
Alexander Gerst back on Earth
Science & Exploration

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst returns to Earth

10/11/2014 18851 views 54 likes
Open item
Science & Exploration

Alexander’s rollercoaster ride from space to Germany

06/11/2014 9302 views 66 likes
Open item
Alexander testing spacesuit
Science & Exploration

Alexander Gerst set for spacewalk

03/10/2014 9883 views 61 likes
Open item
Complete crew
Science & Exploration

Halfway through Blue Dot mission

18/09/2014 4877 views 48 likes
Open item
Our blue dot
Science & Exploration

Blue Dot update

15/07/2014 3546 views 22 likes
Open item
Moonrise from space
Science & Exploration

Spot the Space Station looking at you

01/07/2014 16836 views 77 likes
Open item
Flying over Earth
Science & Exploration

Science and spacewalks on Space Station

20/06/2014 5284 views 65 likes
Open item
Alexander Gerst
Science & Exploration

Alexander’s first week in space

05/06/2014 7426 views 71 likes
Open item
Liftoff of Soyuz TMA-13M on 28 May 2014
Science & Exploration

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst arrives at Space Station

29/05/2014 6877 views 44 likes
Open item
Alexander Gerst
Science & Exploration

Expedition 40 all set to go

26/05/2014 5384 views 50 likes
Open item
Columbus Control Centre
Science & Exploration

Munich to Alexander: all systems go

22/05/2014 3737 views 42 likes
Open item
Final qualification exams for the Expedition 40/41 crew
Science & Exploration

Alexander Gerst ready for orbit

09/05/2014 1701 views 18 likes
Open item
Testing Sokol suit
Science & Exploration

Ask astronaut Alexander anything

11/03/2014 3416 views 35 likes
Open item
Alexander Gerst
Science & Exploration

Inside astronaut Alexander’s head

17/02/2014 5058 views 64 likes
Open item
Blue Dot mission logo
Science & Exploration

Announcing Blue Dot mission logo

22/09/2013 8620 views 70 likes
Open item

Related Links