National Aeronautics and Space Administration


Date of this Version



Aerosol Science and Technology, 49:310–321, 2015


U.S. Government Work


A series of smoke experiments were carried out in the Microgravity Science Glovebox on the International Space Station (ISS) Facility to assess the impact of low-gravity conditions on the properties of the smoke aerosol. The smokes were generated by heating five different materials commonly used in space vehicles. This study focuses on the effects of flow and heating temperature for low-gravity conditions on the pyrolysis rate, the smoke plume structure, the smoke yield, the average particle size, and particle structure. Low-gravity conditions allowed a unique opportunity to study the smoke plume for zero external flow without the complication of buoyancy. The diameter of average mass increased on average by a factor of 1.9 and the morphology of the smoke changed from agglomerate with flow to spherical at no flow for one material. The no flow case is an important scenario in spacecraft where smoke could be generated by the overheating of electronic components in confined spaces. From electron microcopy of samples returned to earth, it was found that the smoke can form an agglomerate shape as well as a spherical shape, which had previously been the assumed shape. A possible explanation for the shape of the smoke generated by each material is presented.