Almost one year since the Space Academy lower and middle school elective class launched Nueva’s first venture into space, the students finally have the results of a hot air pattern experiment they tested in microgravity.
On June 3, 2017, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and delivered the Dragon spacecraft into orbit. The rocket made a successful vertical landing on Earth while the Dragon spacecraft continued into space. The Falcon 9 rocket landing marked the first time SpaceX has relaunched a spacecraft (a technique that could lower the cost of space flight), but this exploration also marked the 100th launch from Kennedy Space Center. Two days after the launch, the Dragon spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station, but there was a problem. The students' shoebox-sized experiment had a hardware glitch that kept code from running.
Students in fifth through eighth grade wanted to measure how hot air moves in a microgravity environment. They hypothesized that hot air would behave differently and spread out into a spherical shape instead of rising the way it normally would on Earth. The students divided into four teams, and together the hardware team, electrical team, software team, and microvection teams created a cube for measuring hot air patterns on Earth and in space.
After correcting the glitch discovered during the first launch, the new contraption re-launched on a SpaceX rocket on April 2, 2018. The experiment made it to the space station and the code ran with no apparent issues. The students were able to collect data from their experiment at last!
The results from the experiment were unexpected. The Nueva Space Academy team found a slight uptick on one of the heat sensors. This uptick challenged the original hypothesis that hot air in space expands in a sphere. The students are now examining what variables could have lead to their surprise results.
Sixth-grade science teacher Dalton Lobo Dias wrote in depth about the Space Academy’s hot air pattern experiments in the Fall 2017 issue of the Nueva Journal. Dalton says, “This academy has been one of the most authentic scientific experiences we’ve offered in the Middle School — truly epic!”
Read more about the experiment in the Journal, or watch footage from the Space9 Falcon rocket launch that took place last summer.
By Julia Barzizza, Digital Content Specialist
May 16, 2018