PULLMAN, Wash. — Four Washington State University students have been selected to conduct an experiment aboard NASA’s low gravity simulator aircraft, also known as the Vomit Comet.
The students are hoping to analyze the effects of gravity on collapsing vapor bubbles. Physics professor Phillip Marston said this is a unique experiment.
“The students will be using a set of tools in a way that has never been tried before,” said Marston. “This experiment could have implications for understanding energy focusing mechanisms and for understanding boiling heat transfer in space flights.” Marston said the students built the experiment chamber and hardware themselves.
The experiment will involve heating water to create individual vapor bubbles. Then they will record the sound of those bubbles collapsing in low gravity with the use of a listening device called a hydrophone, which can detect sound under water.
Joshua Clearman, who majors in both applied math and philosophy, said the experiment is the result of a team effort.
“We started in September and had to do a lot of work, but now it’s all coming together.” Clearman said previous WSU students who participated in NASA experiments in 1997 and 1998 inspired his team.
The other 1999 team members are physics majors Chris Breckon, Scott Douthit and Rick Graff. All four students will arrive in Houston on Friday, March 12, to begin flight training and prepare for the experiment.

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