Table tennISS! Liquid ping pong in 4K on space station (VIDEO)
The astronaut, together with Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, are aboard the International Space Station on a record year-long journey and on Thursday they marked day 300 of their space odyssey.
Kelly recorded a video explaining how a new water-repellant material worked and he tested it by showing off some impressive slow-mo ping-pong skills. One of the most intense fast-reaction sports on Earth, the game turned out to be somewhat slower in space, but thrilling nonetheless.
"I wanted to do a little demonstration of these paddles, they're called hydrophobic paddles and they repel water like a rain coat,” Kelly comments on his actions in the 4k NASA video.
The paddles he uses instead of usual wooden bats are polycarbonate laser etched, so the surfaces are arrays of 300 micrometer posts. They were then sprayed with a Teflon coat.
The water ball doesn’t break up because the combined effects of surface roughness and non-wettability produce a super-hydrophobic surface capable of preventing water adhesion in dynamic processes, NASA explained.
The smaller the ball, the harder you can hit without smashing it up.
Previous video hits from the ISS include the crew eating space-grown lettuce for the first time, tricks with water and color in microgravity (hint: more pretty flying liquid balls) and a message to Earth from Kornienko, in which he shows what the sunset looks like from outer space.