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Combustion continues to draw researchers to space station
Date:1/21/2014

nderstanding of combustion in space and how to avoid it. If you're on a mission far from Earth, a fire can be catastrophic. We want to select the safest materials."

The aim is to better understand the basic structure of flames and fires. The results of BASS-II should help researchers refine computational models and theories about flame behavior. To produce better models, scientists need reliable data. Earth-based flame studies are greatly affected by gravity.

Buoyancy, which makes hot gasses rise, usually causes flame flickering even in a still environment. If researchers can reduce buoyancy to near zero, they have the opportunity to study a range of flame behavior that may be concealed by the influence of gravity.

"If we eliminate gravity, we turn off a confounding factor, buoyancy," said Olson."If we decouple buoyancy from other influences we can get a better understanding of flame behavior."

Drop towers and microgravity aircraft can provide short bursts of microgravity, 5 to 20 seconds. However, not only are the experiments limited by these short bursts of time, they may also be affected by g-jitter, that is oscillations in the apparent gravity caused by vibrations in the aircraft and hardware. In space, researchers have the benefit of longer tests without g-jitter.

"Using the station breaks the scientific process down to its simplest components. Information from studies in space gives theorists and those who design models an opportunity to improve those models and theories," said Paul Ferkul, BASS-II Project Scientist at Glenn. Ferkul was also a principal investigator for the earlier BASS study.

Results from BASS-II will contribute to the combustion computational models used in the design of fire detection and suppression systems both in space and on the ground. While spacecraft fire safety is a primary concern for researchers in BASS-II, the work from space-based studies can lead to significant improvements
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Contact: Laura Niles
Laura.E.Niles@nasa.gov
281-244-7069
NASA/Johnson Space Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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