Experience Zero Gravity

Carthage students and faculty regularly conduct research aboard NASA’s zero-gravity aircraft, as part of ongoing experiments and technology development for space hardware.

Microgravity projects at Carthage are carried out in partnership with NASA researchers, Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium, and commercial service providers. Most projects involve a team of 4-6 students working throughout the academic year on the design, construction, and flight of an experimental spaceflight technology or low gravity experiment. Carthage has flown more than 1,000 weightless parabolas on NASA and commercial research aircraft, including the NASA C-9 and Zero G Corporation G-Force One.

Current projects include:

  • Propellant mass gauging technology development on Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft
  • Active slosh suppression in propellant tanks using advanced magnetic alloys
  • Propellant “shape” studies in weightless environments

All projects are supported through NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, which provides researchers with access to launch opportunities, parabolic aircraft, and other test facilities.

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NASA’s Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program gives students and educators the opportunity to design, build and fly an experiment in microgravity and get a look at what it takes to be a NASA engineer or scientist.

Carthage Microgravity Projects

Magneto-active Slosh Control (MaSC) — 2018-present

The MaSC project is a collaboration between Carthage Space Sciences and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University to develop a free-floating membrane to suppress slosh in propellant tanks. The membrane is a thin magnetic alloy that is actively and autonomously controlled to suppress slosh forces occurring during engine burns and other spacecraft maneuvers.

Modal Propellant Gauging (MPG) — 2011-present

The MPG project is a collaboration between Carthage Space Sciences and Kennedy Space Center Cryogenics Laboratory to develop a high-resolution low-gravity fuel gauging technology by exploiting the effect of fluid loading on the structural properties of liquid-filled propellant tanks.
Learn more about the MPG project

Next-generation Spacecraft Coolant — 2013

Carthage students supported the Purdue University Flow Boiling and Condensation Experiment currently manifested for launch to the International Space Station in 2020. The Carthage team developed and flew an experiment to test the capability of radial membrane filters to remove oxygen from a perfluorohexane-based coolant in low gravity.
Learn more about the spacecraft cooling project

Slosh in the Orion Service Module Propellant Tanks (2010)

In collaboration with Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Carthage students modeled the slosh dynamics of the Orion Service Module’s propellant tanks. We conducted both low-gravity flight-testing and extensive computer modeling of the slosh dynamics of propellant at different fill-levels.
Learn more about the propellant slosh project

Microgravity Repose Angle of Lunar Regolith (2009)

In collaboration with NASA Glenn Research Center, Carthage students developed and carried out experiments to measure the repose angle of lunar regolith simulants in vacuum under lunar gravity conditions aboard NASA’s reduced gravity aircraft.
Learn more about the repose angle project

Dust in the Wind: Low-gravity Inertial Filtration of Lunar Dust (2008)

Carthage worked with NASA Glenn Research Center to develop a test bed for demonstrating the use of a cyclone filter for regolith dust filtration in future spacecraft and planetary habitats. The project demonstrated the effectiveness of vortex filters in lunar gravity.
Learn more about the dust filtration project