Astronauts living in space have already demonstrated the bizarre ways they eat food and drink liquids. But now, NASA seems to have cracked the code for a more earth-like coffee experience with its futuristic Space Cup which it demoed recently.
According to NASA, these Space Cups are specially designed mugs that use the concepts of fluid dynamics to mimic the effects of gravity in space. The demo video shows astronaut Nicole Mann pouring coffee from a pouch into a Space Cup. What we see next is that the liquid doesn't spill out of the mug even when she goes on to flip the mug upside down.
Classic cappuccino, meet the space cup. ☕🤝— ISS Research (@ISS_Research) March 2, 2023
This demo shows the Capillary Beverage investigation which studies the process of drinking from specially designed Space Cups that use fluid dynamics to mimic the effect of gravity. https://t.co/xFGFTva2Bw pic.twitter.com/M7TQmIwlrC
The demo is part of NASA's Capillary Flow Experiment and the agency has been working on the futuristic space tech for more than a decade now. Its patent granted in 2011 is shared by astronaut Don Pettit with mathematicians Paul Concus and Robert Finns.
The agency says its specially-designed cup "uses the combined effects of surface tension, wetting, and cup geometry" instead of relying on gravity, and allows the astronauts to drink the liquid easily. For that, all they need to do is place their mouth on the narrow top part of the Space Cup and coffee automatically gets pulled into their mouth due to capillary action.
Some common examples of the anti-gravity capillary action are how the water moves upwards through tissue paper when placed on a surface of water, or how water travels upwards through plants from their roots. NASA expects these Capillary Beverage studies could make drinking easier in microgravity and also reduce the weight and size of liquid bags sent to space.
Speaking of the drinks served in the space, they include water, juice, tea, coffee, cocoa, and others. And a part of the experiment is to monitor the drinking experience of these liquids. However, NASA believes the Space Cup design could also have potential applications on earth in the field of medical research and drug delivery.