April 19th, 2013
04:51 PM ET

What happens to a wet washcloth in space?

By Matt Dellinger, CNN

Astronauts on the International Space Station get to do the coolest experiments. And sometimes the simplest ones can be the most impressive.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield demonstrates what happens when you wring out a soaking wet washcloth in zero gravity. The idea came from two high school students in Nova Scotia who won a contest to design a simple science experiment to be conducted on the ISS. The experiment had to use materials that were already available on the space station and was selected out of almost 100 entries.

Watch the video above to see the incredible effect of weightlessness on the water absorbed by the washcloth.

What are some simple experiments you would like to see conducted in space? Let us know in the comments below!

(The Science Seat will resume next Friday)

soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. alumette

    I would like to see them use the bathroom. Oops....guess will not happen.

    April 28, 2013 at 1:51 am |
  2. Donna

    I really liked the experiment. I thought the water would stream away from the cloth not layer on top of it. I'm not a scientist by any stretch (I had the most boring science teachers ever) but I would have thought the pressure of the wringing would force the water away from the cloth. A very fun experiment.

    April 25, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
  3. jerseyguy36

    Bad science since the experiment and the headline were not on the same page. The wash cloth was not in space, it was enclosed in a climate controlled capsule in space. That is, controlled temperature (room temp), controlled atmospheric pressure, controlled relative humidity etc. only thing that space had to do with it it was gravity which did not separate the water from the cloth beyond the pressure exerted on it from the wringing. I suspect if this were truly in space the water, of course would be frozen solid, if warmed up it would almost instantaneously evaporate into the atmosphere of space.

    April 24, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
  4. TheRationale


    April 22, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
  5. Astrophysicist

    As an astrophysicist I think the experiment was gay. And lame.

    April 22, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
    • JDAWG


      April 23, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
      • Judas Priest

        He/she/it is also a trolioliolllo. Don't feed it, eventually it will drop off and scuttle away.

        April 23, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
      • Judas Priest

        Did I say "also"? I misspoke, that would imply that the poster actually is an astrophysicist and not a full-time intellectual buttt-pimple.

        April 23, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
      • troll10

        ┈┈┈▕╲╲▂▂▂▂▂▂╱╱▏┈ trolls r cool

        April 27, 2013 at 9:35 am |
      • Elroy Jetson

        I hate to tell you guys this, but you still can get butt pimples in space. You should see my butt! Pimple heaven!!

        April 29, 2013 at 8:31 am |
  6. Joe S.

    The kids who thought of this experiment should have a great future. The ability to take the simple and imagine more should take them far in life. Great experiment, fun to watch.

    April 22, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
  7. w l jones

    One thing for sure the bubble don^t bubble up fly away.

    April 22, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
  8. pacman357

    Personally, I'd love to see if NASA can figure out why women need sweaters and blankets when it's 78 degrees, the furnace and fireplace are going, etc. I swear, some women could stand amidst a house fire and complain they are cold.

    BTW, I enjoyed the experiment, too. Not what I expected. Please, however, never ever show us converting your urine to drinking water. I'm totally serious about that.

    April 22, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • Tim

      This would be tax dollars well spent. Seriously, can we set down string-field theory for a sec and figure this out? My plan is to throw booze at the problem until it fixes itself.

      April 30, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  9. Kesley Newell

    throw a paper airplane out there!

    April 22, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  10. asantegideon

    more information about circular motion

    April 22, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • d o double g

      didn't the great Dr. Dre already explain that with his scientific method of the three wheel motion

      April 23, 2013 at 12:07 am |
  11. helenecha

    What happens while wring out a soaking wet washcloth in zero gravity? Frankly, the possible phenomenon has led me to see the graceful eruption of a solar prominence in space. Wish it would lead the way for scientists to speculate some truth under the surface of the Sun.

    April 22, 2013 at 1:17 am |
  12. Buck Rogers

    One experiment NASA will never do (because the Soviets already tried) is to reenter the atmosphere at hypersonic 17,500 mph. What happens at 17,500 mph upon descent into air, one quickly evaporates as do meteors. Ever since the Soviets confirmed this fact, NASA was born in order to con the masses that man can 'drop' a tin-can from LEO at hypersonic and 'land' safely via a parachute. Indeed, the 'space race' was a con conjured up via the same Nazi scientists (National Socialist Zionists) in the USSR and USA. Since then, the world audience has been wholly duped by these con men, and now we have 'astro-evolution' embedded in the psyche of the general public, as well as comical experiments with wet handkerchiefs while performing parabolic maneuvers over Kazakhstan....


    April 21, 2013 at 9:52 am |
    • Astrophysicist

      I agree.

      April 22, 2013 at 9:53 am |
      • Judas Priest

        I'm sure you do, sparky. I'll bet most people with zero knowledge and poor learning skills would as well.

        April 22, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
    • Joe

      I disagree, but only cause I don't know what the hell you're talking about.

      April 22, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
      • jerseyguy36

        Neither does he/she!

        April 24, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • John Doe

      Someone at CNN should really moderate Buck Rogers comment into oblivion.

      April 22, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
      • db

        That wouldn't be moderation. That would be censorship. People are free to have oppinions about things and Buck Rogers backed the oppinion up well, but I'm not saying he's right. I do know that many Nazi scientists were given asylum in the U.S. in order to further their research and develop programs in the U.S. N.A.S.A. got allot of those scientists as did JPL and MK Ultra. Plus there is also the question about radiation levels in space. There is a huge radiation belt around Earth and it is questionable whether or not humans could survive this with the type of protection we have developed. You may not agree with any of these opinions but that doesn't mean they aren't legitimate sources for questioning the information we are being fed by the media and history books.

        April 22, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
    • R P

      I don't know - I thought the experiment was interesting. I thought the water would spray off in all directions, but the surface tension of the water makes it stay together in a blob around the cloth. Maybe this would be effective in coating surfaces or other processes which can't be done easily in gravity fields.

      April 22, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • pacman357

      Mr. Madison, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

      April 22, 2013 at 7:45 pm |


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