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PSU coffee cup goes into orbit

Without the pull of gravity, liquids behave in strange ways. Even some of the most basic maneuvers, such as drinking from a coffee cup, are confounded by the absence of a fundamental force we earthlings take for granted.  

Never fear, space jockeys! Mechanical engineering professor Mark Weislogel and three colleagues have designed a patented cup for zero gravity refreshment. 

“The low-g cup exploits an interior corner, which combined with favorable wetting, lets surface tension replace the role of gravity so you can kind of drink normally,” Weislogel says. “It’s pretty simple. Works well for champagne too.” 

The zero gravity coffee cup is the result of one of many experiments guided from the NASA lab at PSU’s Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science, and performed by astronauts aboard the International Space Station. 

Weislogel shares the patent with two mathematicians, Paul Concus, professor emeritus at University of California, Berkeley; Robert Finn, professor at Stanford University; and NASA astronaut Don Pettit, who perfected the cup during his time in space. 

More information about the zero-gravity coffee cup and related experiments is on the NASA website.