PFC Results

Several experiments dedicated to the study of the behavior of a granular medium in low-gravity have been performed during 10 parabolic flight campaigns (2015-2021) via the ESA VIP-GRAN-PF instrument.

This versatile instrument allows us the study of a wide range of properties of a granular medium in low-gravity. Its modular design, based on several interchangeable experimental cells, allows the study of both dilute and dense regimes in reduced gravity (e.g. granular gas, segregation of a heterogeneous granular material, sound propagation, granular convection, jamming and rheology). The instrument is fully described in Ref. [2] as well as the main objectives and preliminary results.

Eight ESA Parabolic Flight Campaigns was performed in low-gravity environment onboard the Airbus Zero-G. A couple of them was devoted to instrument tests, others led to the first scientific results [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]:

  • The first observation in low-gravity of a phenomenon of segregation within a mixture of bi-disperse driven grains, which helps to better understand the granular surface (regolith) of certain astrophysical stars [1].
  • The origin of the transition from a gase-like regime to a solid-like regime of particles (cluster), when the density of particles increases, has been also explained [3].


Parabolic flight campaigns performed with ESA VIP-GRAN-PF instrument:


[1] E. Opsomer, M. Noirhomme, N. Vandewalle, E. Falcon and S. Merminod, Segregation and pattern formation in dilute granular media under microgravity conditions, Nature PJ Microgravity 3, 1 (2017) – PDF

[2] S. Aumaître, R. P. Behringer, A. Cazaubiel, E. Clément, J. Crassous, D. J. Durian, E. Falcon, S. Fauve, D. Fischer, A. Garcimartin, Y. Garrabos, M. Hou, X. Jia, C. Lecoutre, S. Luding, D. Maza, M. Noirhomme, E. Opsomer, F. Palencia, T. Pöschel, J. Schockmel, M. Schröter, M. Sperl, R. Stannarius, N. Vandewalle, and P. Yu, An instrument for studying granular media in low-gravity environment, Review of Scientific Instruments 89, 075103 (2018) – PDF

[3] M. Noirhomme, A. Cazaubiel, A. Darras, E. Falcon, D. Fischer, Y. Garrabos, C. Lecoutre-Chabot, S. Merminod, E. Opsomer, F. Palencia, J. Schockmel, R. Stannarius, N. Vandewalle, Threshold of gas-like to clustering transition in driven granular media in low-gravity environment, Europhysics Letters (EPL) 123, 14003 (2018) – PDF

[4] M. Noirhomme, A. Cazaubiel, E. Falcon, D. Fischer, Y. Garrabos, C. Lecoutre-Chabot, S. Mawet, E. Opsomer, F. Palencia, S. Pillitteri, & N. Vandewalle, Particle Dynamics at the Onset of the Granular Gas-Liquid Transition, Phys. Rev. Lett. 126, 128002 (2021) – PDF

[5] D. Puzyrev, D. Fischer, K. Harth, T. Trittel, R. C. Hidalgo, E. Falcon, M. Noirhomme, E. Opsomer, N. Vandewalle, Y. Garrabos, C. Lecoutre, F. Palencia & R. Stannarius, Visual analysis of density and velocity profiles in dense 3D granular gases, Scientific Reports 11, 10621 (2021) – PDF