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Will A Boomerang Return In Zero Gravity? [Science]
posted April 8 2014 11:17.59 by spic0m

On Earth, a properly thrown boomerang will return to the person who threw it. Is the same true aboard the International Space Station?

Boomerangs feel more like magic than science when they return after a good throw. A boomerang works by aerodynamics, but does it still work in zero gravity? Astronaut Takao Doi threw a boomerang on the International Space Station to test it out.

The throws work perfectly, reliably returning the boomerang to Doi time after time. While the International Space Station is in near-zero gravity, the air that keeps our astronauts alive and breathing also allows the boomerang to perform its aerodynamic trick.

The arms of a boomerang are asymmetrical. One side is slightly curved, forcing air to travel farther compared to the flat side. This curves the air flow, turning the moving fluid and producing lift. The uneven aerodynamic forces induce a spin in the boomerang. Torque from the spin produces a slight wobble, causing the boomerang to precess around the axis of rotation like a toy top. The precession pulls on the flight path, curving the boomerang into a circular route that returns it to the thrower.

Read the rest of the article here.

[Link: space.io9]

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