Science in Short: ARTE

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NASA astronaut Tim Kopra installed the Thermal Exchange hardware in the Microgravity Science Glovebox. Credits: NASA

NASA astronaut Tim Kopra installed the Thermal Exchange hardware in the Microgravity Science Glovebox. Credits: NASA

Our small devices have to dump a lot of heat from their electronics, if you have been sitting with your laptop on your lap wondering why it is getting so hot, you might also be interested in future improvements being sought through research on the International Space Station. Heat pipes are used to cool things like laptop computers and rely on an interface between liquid and gas phases in a liquid, plus capillary flow to return the cooled liquid back to the heated end. Previous research on the space station discovered inefficiencies in heat pipes and other research identified the new fundamental equations for capillary flow from research done on the orbiting laboratory. During the first week of April, and experiment called Advanced Research Thermal Passive Exchange (ARTE) , one of a number of new experiments testing this new knowledge to get practical applications, was completed on the space station. The Thermal Exchange hardware performed a series of powered test runs within the microgravity science glovebox to determine the impact of using various working fluids and different groove shapes on capillary action for heat pipes operating in a microgravity environment. The data collected will be used to further understand and validate numerical modelling of heat pipe behavior in microgravity, which can then be used to develop more passive and reliable thermal control systems for future exploration. This particular experiment was sponsored by the Italian Space Agency, and was led by scientists from DIMEAS – Dipartimento di Ingegneria Meccanica e Aerospaziale, I Facoltà di Ingegneria, Politecnico di Torino, Torino, Italy; related investigations testing various aspects of capillary flow and heat transfer are coming in the next few years, including some sponsored by CASIS as part of the ISS National Laboratory, and some sponsored by NASA.

NASA’s International Space Station Chief Scientist Julie Robinson, Ph.D. (NASA)

NASA’s International Space Station Chief Scientist Julie Robinson, Ph.D. (NASA)

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