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Thread: Have they ever tried to grow snowflakes in micro-gravity?

  1. #1
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    Have they ever tried to grow snowflakes in micro-gravity?

    Up there in the ISS, or other stations?

    Might be quite interesting.
    Formerly Frog march.

  2. #2
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    Not sure about snowflakes precisely, but microgravity crystallography has been part of the science package for space stations for decades.

  3. #3
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    Snowflakes are suspended in the air. I don't think their formation is unduly affected by gravity.
    The effect of varying moisture and winds would swamp of gravity effects on shape.

  4. #4
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    Yeah. Snowflakes are in free-fall on Earth.

    Grant Hutchison
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    Snowflakes are suspended in the air. I don't think their formation is unduly affected by gravity.
    The effect of varying moisture and winds would swamp of gravity effects on shape.
    Im not sure I understand. They end up falling to the ground so there must be a motion through the air caused by gravity. Or is it that they are suspended and only start falling once theyd formed the crystal structure?


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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    I’m not sure I understand. They end up falling to the ground so there must be a motion through the air caused by gravity. Or is it that they are suspended and only start falling once they’d formed the crystal structure?
    They have a low terminal velocity, so they are very sensitive to updrafts. As far as a snowflake is concerned, life consists of slow air movement coming from different directions, changes in humidity, and changes in temperature. The ice and water vapour in its environment is even smaller, and so even less troubled by the local gravity vector.
    So a snowflake is pretty unlike to be able to tell the difference between Earth's gravity and microgravity.

    Grant Hutchison
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    Note:
    During life, we all develop attitudes and strategies to make our interactions with others more pleasant and useful. If I mention mine here, those comments can apply only to myself, my experiences and my situation. Such remarks cannot and should not be construed as dismissing, denigrating, devaluing or criticizing any different attitudes and strategies that other people have evolved as a result of their different situation and different experiences.

  7. #7
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    I suppose one way that microgravity could affect snowflakes is similar to how it affects flames - through insufficient mixing.

    If the air is still, and there are no currents - and no settling of different types of atoms / molecules - then a growing snowflaKe might use up water molecules in its immediate vicinity. That could induce a change in the shapes that grow from it.

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