Fire… IN SPACE!!!

flames

This is from a rather old article, but it’s interesting none the less.  NASA wanted to know how fire would behave in a Zero-G environment, so they carried out some experiments in the “Vomit Comet” since lighting even controlled fires in the Space Shuttle or ISS was considered too dangerous.  Turns out that might not have been a big problem after all because of how fire burns.

On Earth, oxygen in the air is constantly moving in to take the place of the oxygen being burned by a fire, while the CO2 produced from the chemical reaction moves away from the fire due to gravity.  In a Zero-G environment, the CO2 doesn’t move away from the flame quick and will often extinguish the flame.  This made NASA’s experiments a little harder, but it showed some interesting properties of fire.  In Zero-G, the flames don’t follow a convection trail, making the flame into a little sphere instead of the candle flame spire were all used to.  This research has important implication to NASA in developing ways to combat fires on spacecraft.

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