Bear in the air

Scientists here at Brighton carried a cuddly colleague with them as they boarded an aircraft for zero-gravity flights.

‘Captain Bright One’, our University’s teddy bear mascot, flew with researchers as the pilot took the plane on an upward trajectory and then reduced thrust and pushed the stick to achieve weightlessness.

The researchers used the European Space Agency (ESA) flights to test a ground-breaking system that has the potential to revolutionise the way heat can be managed – a crucial requirement for satellites and other space craft.

The research is being led by Professor Marco Marengo, Professor of Engineering. He said: “Due to the complete absence of air and the violent extremes in temperature in space, satellites, for example, require a thermal radiation screen in order to limit both the excessive heat from the sun and release of heat to the cold of outer space.”

His team is developing a novel ‘pulsating heat pipe’ system which dissipates heat using an evaporator and a condenser connected through a meandering capillary tube. They needed to test the system in weightless conditions to ensure it will operate successfully when it is used in outer space.

ESA has granted the team access to the International Space Station to test the system further and it likely will travel with British astronaut Tim Peake when he undertakes his second space mission sometime after 2020.

The news follows the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council granting the team £900,000 to develop the system further.

Photos of the Captain Bright One teddy were taken by research team member Dr Nicolas Miché, leader for the University’s Aeronautical Engineering courses.

For more information on the team’s research, go to:

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