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Zero Gravity Cup Helps Astronauts Drink Coffee In Space

Zero Gravity Cup Helps Astronauts Drink Coffee In Space
Innovation

NASA has patented and developed a drink receptacle that contains a sharp interior corner on one side.

Emma Hutchings
  • 22 july 2013

Without gravity, it’s almost impossible to predict how a liquid will behave, and difficult to get a liquid inside a cup and control it when pouring. To develop a better understanding of fluids in microgravity, a Capillary Flow Experiment is being conducted onboard the International Space Station.

If two solid surfaces meet at a narrow-enough angle, fluids in microgravity naturally flow along the join, with no pumping required. As a result of their work, Physics professor Mark Weislogel of Portland State University and his colleagues have been granted a patent for a Zero Gravity Coffee Cup.

Zero Gravity Cup Helps Astronauts Drink Coffee In Space

Astronaut Don Pettit, who worked with the Capillary Flow Experiment during his time on board the ISS, helped invent the cup. One side has a sharp interior corner and capillary forces send fluid flowing along the channel and into the drinker’s mouth. Pettit said:

As you sip, more fluid keeps coming, and you can enjoy your coffee in a weightless environment– clear down to the last drop. This may well be what future space colonists use when they want to have a celebration.

NASA Science

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