On June 18, a passenger plane, SIAI-Marchetti S.211, departed from Essendon Fields Airport in Melbourne with a pilot in control and a case full of scientific experiments in the passenger seat.

The pilot Steve Gale boarded a plane with Australia’s first commercial, “parabolic,” in which the aircraft flew in the direction of a free-flowing object, creating a short period of weight loss for everyone and everything inside.

Parabolic flights are usually a test of zero-gravity conditions. This was used by the Australian space company Beings Systems, which has planned to operate conventional commercial aircraft for years.

As the Australian space program begins to take off, planes like these will be much needed.

What was on the plane?

The flight test was a small package developed by space science students at RMIT University. As a program manager for the RMIT space science degree program, I have taught these students for the past three years, preparing them for work in the Australian space industry.

The tests investigate the effect of zero gravity on plant growth, crystal growth, heat transfer, particle mixing, foam, and magnetism.

Scientific events behave differently from zero gravity than in terrestrial labs. This is important for two main reasons.

First, the gravitational force of zero, or “microgravity,” provides a “clean” environment in which experiments are performed. By removing gravity from the system, we can learn something from the “pure” state and thus better understand it.

Second, microgravity platforms such as parabolic airplanes, sound rockets, and towers provide equipment for testing equipment and science before being sent into space.

In-flight Lab: Small ISS

The flight was successful, with six tests recording various details and photos.

Plant tests detected broccoli seedlings during flight and found no adverse reactions to hyper- or micro-gravity.

Other experiments formed a crystal of sodium acetate trihydrate in microgravity, which grew much more significant than its lower counterparts.

The International Space Station (ISS) is the largest zero-gravity lab, where studies of plant growth, crystal growth, and natural science conditions are expected. At any one time, 300 tests took place on the ISS.

Converting a benchtop test into a paid science-based local content is not easy. Each one should be tested thoroughly before launch to ensure it will work once it gets there, using parabolic planes or other testing platforms.

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Alice is the Chief Editor with relevant experience of three years, Alice has founded Galaxy Reporters. She has a keen interest in the field of science. She is the pillar behind the in-depth coverages of Science news. She has written several papers and high-level documentation.


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