Through strong national and international partnerships, our researchers play leading roles in microgravity and hypergravity research.
Our microgravity research programme, led by Associate Prof Danail Obreschkow, regularly partners with the European Space Agency (ESA) to conduct experiments aboard the Airbus A310 Zero G, the world's largest suborbital microgravity facility.
These parabolic flights offer repeated phases of 20s-25-s of "microgravity" (~0.001g), as well as comparable phases of hypergravity (~1.8g). Depending on experimental design, it is also possible to request intermediate levels of gravity, such as lunar (0.17g) and martian (0.38g) gravity.
University of Western Australia (UWA) led research has collected over 10 hours of microgravity via such flights, mainly dedicated to experiments aiming to unravel the mysterious physics of collapsing cavitation bubbles (see video below).
UWA Professor and private pilot Dongke Zhang has also led drop tower experiments, which offer even better levels of microgravity (~0.000001g) than parabolic flights but exhibit shorter phases of microgravity (<10s) and high accelerations (>5g) before and after.
We can offer expertise on the design and conduct of microgravity experiments, as well as essential partnerships for accessing parabolic flight capabilities and drop tower facilities.
Parabolic flights enable research in microgravity. Credit: Air zero-g by Alex Magnan, Airborne Films
Our researchers maintain strong links to the National Geotechnical Centrifuge Facility (NGCF), hosted at the Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems at UWA and directed by Associate Prof Conleth O'Loughlin. The NGCF is the largest geotechnical centrifuge facility in the world, and the only such facility in Australia.
The NGCF centrifuges are mainly used to simulate the response of engineering systems at or within the seabed, but are also used in other scientific disciplines where enhanced gravity is required.
The NGCF hosts three large centrifuges: a 1.2m drum centrifuge, as well as 3.6m and 10m diameter beam centrifuges, for hypergravity experiments up to 350g.
NGCF's C72 beam Centrifuge, commissioned in 2016. Credit: NGCF
Images: Air zero-g by Alex Magnan, Airborne Films; Centrifuge image from NGCF.