If you’re like me, you can’t survive the day without your morning tea. For some of you, it’s coffee but we can all agree that without it the day can go horribly wrong… On Earth, we take drinking our favorite beverage for granted because it is not as easy for our fellow Astronauts to get their morning brew. Astronauts can’t drink from their prized mug like we can but they can recreate the act of sipping from a cup by drinking from these oddly shaped vessel. This is an upgrade for the Astronauts as they used to stuck out the tea or coffee from a bag with a straw.
So how do these little booties allow the Astronauts to drink tea (or coffee) without bubbles of liquid flying everywhere? When two solid surfaces meet at a narrow angle, the fluid in microgravity naturally flows along the join. The combination of the way that the cup has been designed, the surface tension and wetting, drives the liquid forward to the Astronauts mouth. This is called the capillary effect. This effect is very difficult to simulate on Earth due to the interference of gravity but in the weightlessness of space is it very easy to recreate.
However, this is only one part of the capillary experiment. NASA will continue to research into this effect as it could also be used to guide other liquid systems through the spacecraft. Watch the video below for more information!