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Paul Burke and Daniel Varnum Lowry
Paul Burke and Daniel Varnum-Lowry | Image: Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar

Paul Burke and Daniel Varnum-Lowry, graduate students in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University, won the best poster award at the International Space Station (ISS) Research and Development conference (ISSR&D 2019) held in Atlanta.

Undergraduate and graduate students were invited to compete in the poster competition. Burke and Varnum-Lowry’s winning poster is titled “Microgravity and Partial Gravity Fluid Physics: Bubble Formation and Movement in Variable Gravity Environments.”

Experimentally verified two-phase fluid physics models for heat and mass transfer in partial gravity environments do not currently exist. Nor do experimental analogs that can accurately simulate steady-state partial gravity environments. Human habitation on the moon and Mars requires research on two-phase fluid systems where the influence of gravity driven phenomena, such as buoyancy, is reduced. Fluid management, in-situ resource utilization and life support systems all require innovation in fluid models that allow for the prediction and control of bubble detachment.

The students’ research objectives include visualizing and tracking motion of gas bubbles in a liquid in terrestrial gravity, as well as using computational fluid dynamics to model the motion of gas bubbles in a liquid in 1 G-force of gravity. They will also design a fluid experiment that will utilize a long-term partial gravity environment created by an artificial gravity centrifuge on board the ISS.

Burke and Varnum-Lowry are studying under Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar in the Aerospace Human Systems Lab. The ISSR&D 2019 conference focused on discovering how the ISS is creating momentum in space-based research and technology development to benefit humankind for years to come.