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Solid surface wetting and the deployment of drops in microgravityThe complete or partial deployment of liquid samples in low gravity is primarily influenced by the interfacial properties of the specific liquid and solid materials used because the overwhelming bias of the Earth gravitational acceleration is removed. This study addresses the engineering aspects of injecting and deploying drops of prescribed volume into an acoustic positioning chamber in microgravity. The specific problems of interest are the design, testing, and implementation of injector tips to be used in a simultaneously retracting dual-injector system in the Drop Physics Module microgravity experiment facility. Prior to release, the liquid to be deployed must be retained within a restricted area at the very end of the injectors under dynamic stimuli from the continuous injection flow as well as from the stepped motion of the injectors. The final released drop must have a well determined volume and negligible residual linear or angular momentum. The outcome of Earth-based short-duration low gravity experiments had been the selection of two types of injector tips which were flown as back-up parts. They were successfully utilized during the USML-1 Spacelab mission as the primary tips. The combination of a larger contact surface, liquid pinning with a sharp edge, and selective coating of strategic tip surfaces with a non-wetting compound has allowed a significant increase in the success rate of deployment of simple and compound drops of aqueous solutions of glycerol and silicone oil. The diameter of the samples studied in the Drop Physics Module range between 0.3 and 2.7 cm. The tests conducted on-orbit with a manually operated small device have allowed the calibration of the volume deployed for a few drop sizes. The design for improved tips to be used during the next USML flight is based on these results.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Legacy CDMS
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Trinh, E. H.
(Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Inst. of Tech., Pasadena, CA United States)
Depew, J.
(Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Inst. of Tech., Pasadena, CA United States)
Date Acquired
August 16, 2013
Publication Date
February 1, 1994
Publication Information
Publication: Microgravity Science and Technology
Volume: 7
Issue: 4
ISSN: 0938-0108
Subject Category
Engineering (General)
Accession Number
Distribution Limits

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