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Published: Apr 23, 2012 3:00:00 PM
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The project's equipment frame
Sushil Bhavnani, faculty member in Auburn University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, doctoral candidate Naveenan Thiagarajan and undergraduate student Travis Wheeler have been chosen to fly on NASA’s Zero-G reduced gravity aircraft, affectionately known as the “Vomit Comet.” The team’s project, “Fluid Lateral Motion using Surface Microstructures-Channel Flow from a Large Array,” was selected for the flight to study the effects of microgravity on boiling. The group will fly out of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston on May 3.
|Naveenan Thiagarajan, left, and Travis Wheeler|
The students will investigate the effect of surface asymmetry on thermal pumping effects during boiling. Normally, bubbles rise in boiling liquid in a vertical motion because of the pull of gravity. In reduced gravity, there is no buoyancy and bubbles move at an angle. The team will use high speed imaging to study the bubble dynamics while in flight, and the recorded temperature and heat flux data will be used to quantify the heat transfer characteristics. The project has grown out of a collaborative effort between Auburn and colleagues at Oregon State University.
“I am thrilled to be a part of this experience,” says Thiagarajan, who began the project three years ago while completing his master’s degree. “This project is a significant part of my dissertation, and is a story that I will be proud to tell my grandchildren.”
Wheeler says it is great to see the concepts he is learning in the classroom placed into action. “This has been a very educational and worthwhile experience and I am grateful to work with NASA as an undergraduate student,” he says. Wheeler is a research assistant in the heat transfer lab, as well as a NASA Space Grant scholar.