Considerations for material properties and processes in space and their impact

Lappa, Marcello and Kao, Andrew; Lappa, Marcello and Hamerton, Ian and Roberts, Peter C.E. and Kao, Andrew and Domingos, Marco and Soorghali, Hamid and Carvil, Philip, eds. (2024) Considerations for material properties and processes in space and their impact. In: Why Space? Satellite Applications Catapult, Didcot, pp. 24-28. ISBN 9781914241680 (

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Gravity dominates everything on Earth, from the way life has developed to the way many types of materials are formed. Onboard spacecrafts orbiting the Earth or other vehicles in free-fall conditions; however, the influence gravity is barely felt. In this “microgravity environment”, scientists can investigate phenomena, which are impossible on Earth or are masked by the presence of gravity. In this condition various effects are significantly altered, in particular convection, buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure and sedimentation.26 27 In this virtual absence of gravity as we know it, therefore, space flight gives scientists a unique opportunity to study various states of matter (solids, liquids and gases), and discern forces and processes that are interwoven or overshadowed in normal gravity. Accordingly, microgravity can be regarded as an important tool for improving our fundamental understanding of several complex phenomena, which are of great interest in several technological fields.