Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Water in Zero Gravity
Name: Veronica
Status: student
Grade: 6-8
Location: NY
Country: N/A
Date: April 2006

Question:
How does water behaves in 0 gravity?



Replies:
Veronica,

Good question! Since water is normally affected by gravity, it will find the lowest point in any container that it can. This can be a bottle, or if that bottle has a hole in it, then the floor. Under zero-gravity, however, there is no gravity to hold the water in bottom of the container. Therefore it will float around like spacemen do in the movies. The water will still be cohesive with itself, for the most part, meaning that you won't ever get a fine mist of water without a lot of work. The water bonds to itself and if one droplet runs into another, there is a good chance that they will combine and move together. (There are a lot of situations that will determine whether the droplets will actual combine or not, but let's just assume they are moving slow enough and in approximately the same direction.) Other than this, it will float around until it interacts with something else. Remember that water is still a liquid, in zero-gravity or not, so when it runs into solids, it will try to take the form of the solid (like with a bottle).

Matt Voss


From the few videos I've seen of astronauts playing with water in space, it tends to form into large, floating drops. The reason it doesn't just spread out all over the place is surface tension. If you've ever overfilled a glass just slightly, you may have noted the water forms a slight dome, instead of just running over the side like you'd expect. This surface layer of water has a small amount of tension to it, like a rubber balloon. Water drops readily form into larger drops, because a larger drop has more volume and can hold more water for it's surface area. Any slight force acting on the super large floating drops of water though, and they can be torn apart.

Ryan B.



Click here to return to the General Topics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory