Many things change in near-zero gravity, even chemistry. For example, a reaction involving a catalyst that generates hydrogen gas from water runs slowly without gravity driving the produced gas bubbles up and away from the catalyst surface. Chemists observed that difference by running the reaction in this tower. The facility allows scientists to simulate the low gravity experienced in space by dropping their experiments down a 120-m tube. Scientists at ZARM, the German facility that houses this apparatus, can even use an excruciatingly precise catapult to launch things upward without smashing them against the sides, roughly doubling the free-floating experiment time to 9.3 seconds.
To read about this equipment, check out the story by Kerri Jansen.
Credit: ZARM Drop Tower Operation and Service Company
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