Astronaut Don Pettit is a chemical engineer by training, and he is a man who loves his work. The video above, produced as part of a series called “Science off the Sphere,” shows an experiment conducted aboard the International Space Station. In it, Pettit demonstrates the way a water bubble reacts to puffs of air in microgravity. The results are fascinating to watch, made more so by Pettit’s total absorption in the experiment.
During his first six-month stay on the ISS in 2002–3, Pettit also experimented on how fluids react in zero-gravity. He dubbed these sessions “Saturday Morning Science.” Pettit returned to the ISS in December of 2011 and is still there, orbiting over 240 miles above the earth, conducting experiments in his free time and producing “Science off the Sphere.” Episode 5 of the series (below) is mesmerizing, and again, Pettit’s wonder as he narrates the experiment is palpable.
Josh Jones is a doctoral candidate in English at Fordham University and a co-founder and former managing editor of Guernica / A Magazine of Arts and Politics.