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Thread: Can you light a candle in a spacecraft?

  1. #1 Can you light a candle in a spacecraft? 
    Forum Freshman quasistatic's Avatar
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    What happens if you try to burn a candle in a space craft?
    Will the spaceship explode...or will the candle quickly burn itself out..or will it be normal....ideal conditions?


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  3. #2 Re: Can you light a candle in a spacecraft? 
    Moderator Moderator Dishmaster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quasistatic
    What happens if you try to burn a candle in a space craft?
    Will the spaceship explode...or will the candle quickly burn itself out..or will it be normal....ideal conditions?
    Why should this be a problem? I can only imagine that you are thinking of the atmospheric conditions there. Historically, US spacecrafts used a pure oxygen atmosphere, while Russian/Soviet vessels were equipped with an oxygen nitrogen atmosphere. Pure oxygen atmospheres are very dangerous, and there was at least one fatal accident during the early Apollo programme. The ISS uses an Earth like atmosphere. So, from that perspective, there is no difference in terms of combustion to what we know from ground. The only difference is that due to the microgravity there is no convection which produces a spherical flame.


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    Forum Freshman quasistatic's Avatar
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    but air has no weight in space. hence the carbon dioxide produced will not spread/rise hence oxygen supply will be cut off and the flame will not last for a long time.
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  5. #4  
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    I think the carbon dioxide will move through convection -- the heat of the flame will cause the nearby air to heat and move away.
    grep me no patterns and I'll give you no lines
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  6. #5  
    Forum Professor jrmonroe's Avatar
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    Scientists have great concerns about fires in spacecraft and what to expect. I think most spacecraft use reduced pressure, so although it may have an atmospheric composition, its has less density. Anyway, here's a video of a NASA experiment in microgravity along with a description:

    Microgravity Combustion

    Candle flame in microgravity
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  7. #6  
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    it would be a very bad idea to light a candle because it would use up all the oxygen.
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  8. #7  
    Forum Freshman quasistatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlexandruLazar
    I think the carbon dioxide will move through convection -- the heat of the flame will cause the nearby air to heat and move away.
    The hot air moves up because it is lighter than cold air..but in space it has no weight. hence it will not rise or spread.. there wont be any convection currents
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  9. #8  
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    Oh my . Please act like you did not see that .
    grep me no patterns and I'll give you no lines
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  10. #9  
    Moderator Moderator Janus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quasistatic
    Quote Originally Posted by AlexandruLazar
    I think the carbon dioxide will move through convection -- the heat of the flame will cause the nearby air to heat and move away.
    The hot air moves up because it is lighter than cold air..but in space it has no weight. hence it will not rise or spread.. there wont be any convection currents
    There will still be air currents due to the ventilation systems of the craft.
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  11. #10 Re: Can you light a candle in a spacecraft? 
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quasistatic
    What happens if you try to burn a candle in a space craft?
    It goes out.

    http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/space/teac...ty/9flame.html
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...flame-behave-i
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  12. #11  
    Forum Freshman quasistatic's Avatar
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    So basically, it burns out quickly.
    "Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night:
    God said, 'Let Newton be!' and all was light."
    -A. Pope
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