What happens when you wring out a washcloth in space?

For hand towels, astronauts get those little vacuum-packed pucks that you kind of have to unravel into a towel. But what happens when you actually put the towels to use?

Two Nova Scotia high school students, Kendra Lemke and Meredith Faulkner, submitted this experiment to Canadian Space Agency and got to see astronaut Chris Hadfield actually test it out on the ISS. The results are seriously extraordinary and you need to see them.

Thanks, Dean!


  1. For all people who end up in positions of power, or even just in unique, exclusive positions who don’t deserve to be there and make the world feel unfair and out of control, all the reviled dictators, and Peter- or Dilbert Principled managers and nepotism that drives us all insane, sometimes you see somebody, and you think: “That is EXACTLY who I would want in that job.” Chris Hadfield, you are the person for the friggin’ job my friend.

  2. This!  This is produced in Canada… why is not NASA putting something like this out EVERY DAY onto the TV or something. THIS is what will get kids interested in space and science!

      1. Just know that for every “good stuff” you take, we will demand you take an equivalent “bad stuff”. You want hockey? Fine, here’s curling too.

  3. Tremendous. Totally not what I expected and just another reminder: Things ARE different in space folks! Agree wtih @carlpietrantonio, more of this content would be awesome.

    1. Things ARE different in space

      Nitpick: should be “Things ARE different in freefall”

      One can reproduce the result even not in space (e.g. in a jet flying a “freefall” trajectory). Conversely, the result won’t be reproduced in space if not in freefall (e.g. on the moon, or in an accelerating spacecraft).

        1. Taking the interpretation that “everything is in space” only reinforces my point, rather than is a logically valid “nitpick” of it.

          If everything is in space (which in a way, of course it is, even if I find that to be a useless interpretation of “space”), then not only is this experiment not different in space, nothing is (in a trivially true way). But things are still different in freefall.

          Which is what I said. So, thank you for your support.

          Whatever your definition of “space” is, this experiment is more about what’s different in freefall, not what’s different in space.

          1. Well, I’m glad my support is so well received.
            (your celestial, planetary bodies occupy both the ‘not-in space’ and ‘in space’ sets. So, playing with that inherent confusion, and demanding that “everything is in space” would be an attempt at a  humorous play on the inconsistency already present in your nitpick and, by undermining itself (the comment is essentially a tautaulogy), I sought not to appear to be pedantic about the gesture.
            Now, seeing as we’re critically assaying our initial comments, I propose a further third round of post-post-modern meta-analyses in the medium of ASCII art)

      1.  Yes you can reproduce it in a freefall trajectory but the sound of the other passengers screaming spoils the effect.

  4. Very cool, but what happens to those random globules of water that went drifting off?    I would think in such a complex environment you wouldn’t want even a handful of water drops drifting off toward component xyz.  /shrug  maybe they cleaned that stuff up off camera?

  5. Nah, the coolest thing in that video is how he repeatedly just lets go of the mic expecting it to stay near(ish) to his mouth like it’s the most normal thing in/off the world.

    1. The coolest thing is he’s talking to a couple of high school girls – and you can hear their classmates cheering in the background.

  6. As an artist/oil painter, this is now making me wonder how difficult it would be to paint in zero gravity. You know, to get the paint off the brush. I suppose the splatter method would simply allow the paint to hang in the air as the brush is “removed” in a forward motion?

  7. I still get surprised when I see these astronaut videos and things start bouncing around the place without slowing down.  Some part of my mind keeps interpreting the scene as being underwater and expecting everything to have drag on it.

    Also, I’m pretty sure if I were in an environment with no inner-ear balance I’d just be throwing up 24/7, how do these guys handle it?  Medication, training or sheer force of will?

  8. For their next experiment, can the astronauts find out how easy it would be to use a smaller, more efficient lapel mic instead of that huge, floating hand mic?

    …or duct tape?

  9. Hadfield comes from my tiny city, Sarnia, Ontario… and it always amazes me that we have what seems to be the tiniest airport around and that it’s named after him. 

  10. OK, those rich people that pay Roscosmos tens of millions of dollars to go into space (such as Richard Garriot, aka Lord British)? I totally get that now. (Besides, you’re helping to support space exploration, given that Roscosmos is now AFAIK the only program that can actually get people up there and back down.) 

  11. That is seriously cool. This kind of thing can only garner more interest in engineering and science among our school students, please do more, awesome space people! 

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