Zero Gravity Sand
January 27, 2003
These aren't really boulders, but tiny grains of sand photographed under an electron microscope. Similar sand will be used for civil engineering tests inside the Mechanics of Granular Materials experiment to be conducted during the STS-107 Space Shuttle mission, launched this past week. The craggy surfaces stick and form small voids between grains, causing soil or powders to behave like liquid under certain conditions, such as earthquakes or when powders are handled in industrial processes. Results from this granular mechanics research can lead to improved foundations for buildings, management of undeveloped land, and handling of powder or granular materials used in chemical, agricultural and other industries.