Playing Ping-Pong In Space With A Giant Drop Of Water

January 30, 2016


This is a video of astronaut Scott Kelly playing the slowest game of ping-pong with himself aboard the International Space Station using two super-hydrophobic paddles and a giant drop of water. Apparently none of the other astronauts wanted to challenge him to a real ping-pong match because they were all "too busy not screwing around."

The paddles are polycarbonate laser etched so that the surfaces are actually arrays of 300 micrometer posts (0.3mm). The surfaces were then spray coated with a Teflon coat. The combined effects of surface roughness and non-wettability produce a super-hydrophobic surface capable of preventing water adhesion in dynamic processes. The larger the drop, the less force it takes to break it up. The smaller the drop, the harder you can hit it. Scott is demonstrating about a 4 mL drop (over 100 times larger than a rain drop).

What a wonderful time to be alive, am I right? We have a person playing solo ping-pong with super-hydrophobic paddles and a water drop IN SPACE. That is an accomplishment. And while space ping-pong seems cool, I'm still more of a darts kinda guy. "Why are you bleeding?" Because darts. "And the eyepatch?" Also darts.

Hit the jump for the video.

Thanks to Damien, who is going to start the first outerspace foosball league.

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