Testing a Vacuum at NASA’s Space Power Facility

For his BBC show Human Universe, Brian Cox visited NASA’s Space Power Facility in Ohio and used its massive space environment simulation chamber to demonstrate the effect of dropping a bowling ball and feather in a vacuum.

Comments (12)

12 thoughts on “Testing a Vacuum at NASA’s Space Power Facility

  1. They must have some big pumps to pump down that large a chamber that fast. I wonder how many stage they have. I cringed a little bit when he put his hand on the wall. If they were pumping down to HV that would be a big no no.

  2. Anyone educated in basic physics knows that in a vacuum a cannon ball and a feather will both fall at the same rate because there is no air resistance to slow the feather, but it was wonderous to actually see it – to actually experience it.

  3. The whole series has been excellent, Brian Cox seems to deliver a great program. The thing that su[prised me more of this experiment was the joy on the faces of the nasa engineers who seemed like children seeing the experiment actually happen even though they have known the theory

  4. It’s cool to see a video on Tested from my home town. Also you might recognize this from the Avengers movie when Loki shows up

  5. I was waiting to see those feathers drop quickly in real time! THAT would have been cooler than the super slo-mo! Nope. WHAT?!?

  6. Hi! Would you please explain why it would be a big no no? My english isn´t perfect and i can´t figure out what you mean by “pumping down to HV”.

    Cheers

  7. Ok, HV means High Vacuum typically between 10^-6- 10^-8 Torr. which is the maximum you can get from mechanical pumps. In vacuum substances don’t work the same way they do at atmospheric pressures. When you are pumping down far enough, say10^-7 Torr or so material outgassing becomes a problem and a pump load. So you make and effort to really clean all your surfaces. Depending on how far you plan to pump down that’s a multistep process that starts with a degreaser and ends typically with acetone, though there may be stronger substances involved. The reason for this that you get molecules ending up where you don’t want them in you r equipment. Putting you hand on the chamber wall leaves grease that might cause problems later. which is why touching a chamber wall with your bare hand is a no no.

  8. I have been to NASA Glen for work, everything there is from the 60s but ran by modern technology, it’s actual pretty amazing.

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