Bubble Behavior in Nucleate Boiling Experiment Aboard the Space Shuttle

Document Type

Conference Paper

Journal/Book Title/Conference

48th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting Including the New Horizons Forum and Aerospace Exposition


AIAA 2010-0192


American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Publication Date


Faculty Mentor

Heng Ban, USU Dept. of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Boiling dynamics in microgravity need to be better understood before heat transfer systems based on boiling mechanism can be developed for space applications. This paper presents the results of a nucleate boiling experiment aboard Space Shuttle Endeavor (STS-108). The experiment utilized nickel-chromium resistance wire to boil water in microgravity, and the data was recorded with a CCD camera and six thermistors. This data was analyzed to determine the behavior of bubble formation, detachment from the heating wire, and travel in the water with effects of drag on bubble movement. Bubbles were observed to be ejected from the wire, travel through and eventually stop in the unsaturated water. The data from this experiment is in good agreement with the results of theoretical equations used to model bubble-fluid dynamics in microgravity. The primary conclusion from this experiment is that a bubble can be ejected from a heated wire in the absence of gravity, instead of the creation of a single large vapor bubble. Further conclusions from this research could be applied to the development of safe and efficient heat transfer systems for microgravity and terrestrial applications.


Acknowledgments: USU Get Away Special (GAS) team; Jeffrey Duce; YSI Thermistors; ATK Thiokol; Campbell Scientific; True North Software; Ecco Computers; Shoshone-Bancock Native American High School; Space Dynamics Laboratory; Rocky Mountain NASA Space Grant Consortium; Dr. Jan Sojka, USU Dept. of Physics and GAS team advisor; Dr. J. R. Dennison, USU Dept. of Physics; Ron Cefalo and his students at Box Elder High School, Brigham City, UT.