Controlling liquid in space has always been a little tricky, what with the zero-gravity thing. But sometimes, an astronaut just really wants a good old cup o' joe. That's one reason NASA astronaut Don Pettit and Mark Weislogel, a professor of mechanical engineering at Portland State University, have worked on a new coffee cup that looks a little weird but is specially designed to guide liquid to the lips. It's one of many similar projects being performed at the International Space Station.
Here's a video with more on how it works:
*Image courtesy of NASA
Pettit, Weislogel and a couple other researchers have registered the patent on the cup.
Weislogel says the it is just one example of his life's work and there are several experiments underway.
"This is called low- or micro-gravity fluid mechanics and you have to understand it to make fluid systems on spacecraft work right. Those are critical systems."
Higher in importance than the desire to easily consume coffee is an astronaut's need to use the restroom, says Weislogel.
"We have an advanced design for what's called a 'contingency urinal' which is one that the astronauts would use if the primary system ever went down. And we're actually arguing to use this more as a primary system because it can't fail - there's no moving parts."
For more on Weislogel's work, visit the PSU Fariborz Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science.