M.A.M.M.O.T.H. FLOW: Phase II

(Making a Mixing Measurement of Two-pHase Flow)



The NASA Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunity Program allows undergraduate students to conduct meaningful microgravity research aboard NASA's KC-135 "Weightless Wonder". The KC-135 flies a parabolic flight trajectory to simulate up to thirty seconds of weightlessness or microgravity. This marks the second year that a team from the University of Tennessee has participated in this prestigious program.

The movement of two-phase flows is an area of interest in microgravity conditions where evaporation and fluid transfer occur. One key application involves heat transfer from solids to liquids in the presence of vapor barriers. In order to gain a better understanding of these situations, the various issues of two-phase tube flow under microgravity conditions need to be studied.

As a detailed follow-up to last year's MAMMOTH Flow experiment, the first objective of this experiment is to simulate film boiling by injecting air into a pipe with liquid flow. As the gravity level is reduced, the mechanics of the flow are expected to chance resulting in the creation of a circumferential air barrier between the fluid and pipe wall.

Once this is accomplished, the second objective is to ascertain the usefulness of geometrical pipe changes in mixing the separated two-phase flow in an effort to augment heat transfer in microgravity conditions. Two devices will be tested that utilize helical ribbon and variable diameter inserts. It is believed that the helical ribbon will create a desirable phase distribution for heat transfer applications under microgravity conditions by removing the simulated vapor barrier from the pipe wall/heating surface. Similarly, the variable diameter insert will create flow turbulence resulting in desirable mixing of the two-phases and fluid contact with the heating surface. These devices will be compared both qualitatively and quantitatively to a smooth pipe configuration to determine their usefulness in promoting heat transfer in two-phase flow microgravity conditions.


The MAMMOTH Flow: Phase II experiment successfully flew aboard the "Weightless Wonder" in Houston on March 28 and 29 of 2002. Information regarding the technical success of the experiment may be found in our final report to JSC. After returning to UT, the team focused on the outreach phase of the project which included:

With the arrival of summer, some team members graduate and depart to the "real world". Others will return to pick up where this has left off. Hopefully, in the coming year, interest will increase and allow UT to continue participating in this wonderful opportunity.

team members

Team Position


Faculty Advisor

Dr. Masood Parang

Project Manager / Flight Crew

Joseph Tipton

Flight Crew

Jeremy Smith

Flight Crew

Dave Garth

Flight Crew

George Hatcher

Alt. Flight Crew

Brian Babis

project reports



Altitude Chamber & Physiological Training

During this all day training event, the team is trained about the effects of microgravity, motion sickness and decompression sickness from NASA experts. After the session, everyone is equipped with an oxygen mask and placed in an altitude chamber for a simulated flight. Once the chamber is sealed, the air inside is evacuated until the rarefied atmosphere is equivalent to that at 25,000 feet above sea-level. Then we all get a little "drunk" due to hypoxia as our bodies start to starve for oxygen. The idea is to prepare us to react should the unlikely event of a cabin depressurization occur while we're flying about the cabin.




Program Manager Joseph Tipton explains the MAMMOTH Flow apparatus to the NASA Review Team. This is the most critical step in the entire process. It's during this time that NASA gives a "go/no-go" for the team to fly. This year's experiment sparked a very intense discussion of our air system and Gas-Liquid Separation Module. After every conceivable failure-mode had been discussed (short of a nuclear holocaust), the apparatus was approved and we loaded it into the aircraft.



AERO Chairman and Microgravity Team Leader Joseph Tipton flies aboard the KC-135 alongside team member Jeremy Smith. The experiment performed well and time 'flew' by!



Flight team members Dave Garth and George Hatcher compose UT's White Team. This "dynamic duo" flew on day two of the MAMMOTH Flow experiment.