Vanja Miskovic discusses the complexity of the large parabolic flight project, and building the experiment safely.
I am really grateful and excited to have the opportunity to be part of such a big project in the beginning of my PhD studies. I have been selected to participate in this project because I can contribute with my knowledge in material science. On the other hand, this is also a great opportunity for me to learn new things that are not directly related to my previous experience, which will be useful for the future development of my research career. Because of the complexity of this kind of project, we need a big and multidisciplinary team and I enjoy working in surroundings like that.
Before the flight, our team in the Microgravity Research Centre in Université libre de Bruxelles is in charge of building the protective rack and installing the experimental setup inside the rack. The main purpose of the rack is to make experiments in microgravity conditions possible and safe. From beginning of July, my colleague Fabio and I have been working together with our more experienced colleagues, Christophe, Patrick and Jean Charles, to build the rack. Since the conditions in microgravity are not the same as on ground, we have to give special attention to safety rules. The main challenge is organising the ergonomics of the rack so that it will be easy to perform the experiment, while also following all the safety rules from mechanical, electrical, chemical and human point of view.
In the meantime, we are still measuring the capillary pressure and thermal properties of wicks in normal conditions on the ground with our preliminary experimental set up. New samples have been provided and will be tested in middle of September. By the end of October, all experiments on ground should be finished and our database should be completed.
Since the flight is scheduled for November, our goal for the next two months is to finish building the experimental set up and leave some time for testing it and fixing possible mistakes. Even if we still have a lot of work in front of us, things are going as planed without any major problems. As the time of the flight is approaching the excitement and motivation in the team is growing.
07 September 2017 15:02