The Low-Gravity Science and Technology Lab at Georgia Tech has just initiated the design of the largest microgravity drop tower in the SouthEast of the United States. This facility is being built in collaboration with industry partners with the ambition of offering frequent, high-quality access to spaceflight conditions to a broad range of users. Are you a company interested in collaborating with us? Or a Georgia Tech student willing to contribute to the design? Keep reading for further details…
What is “Microgravity“?
Although popular in the gravity-related research community, this term may lead you to think that microgravity is the same as “very small gravity”. However, nothing could be further from reality! The ISS is subject to ~90% of the gravity acceleration on Earth, but astronauts are still in weightless conditions because they are in a “continuous free fall” regime. Strictly speaking, “microgravity” denotes the condition in which two reference systems are in simultaneous free fall with relative accelerations of the order of 10-6 g0. This is the reason why some researchers prefer the term “compensated gravity“.
Why do we care?
By removing the effects of gravity we unveil a wide range of fundamental physical phenomena that help us understand the world around us. From an engineering perspective, mastering such mechanisms allow us to design more efficient and reliable systems for Earth and space applications. Microgravity is thus a driving factor in the development of space technologies, from propellant tanks to deployable structures.
Drop towers – and why the LGST Lab is building one
Drop towers are the most accessible and cost-effective microgravity research facility. By dropping an experiment inside a vacuum tube or a drag shield, high-quality free-fall conditions are generated for up to 10 seconds.
The LGST Lab has just initiated the design of the very first drag-shield drop tower at Georgia Tech in collaboration with the ZARM Institute in Bremen, Germany. Our goal is to join the very few institutions in the world that benefit from this kind of facility and establish a strong US-EU partnership in the field of microgravity research. Students at Georgia Tech are welcome to participate in the design, construction, and testing of this unique facility .
Image credit: Morphology Visuals