Late last year NASA astronaut Don Pettit invented a coffee cup that will work in zero gravity!
“We can suck our coffee from a bag, but to drink it from a cup is hard to do because you can’t get the cup up to get the liquid out, and it’s also easy to slosh,” Pettit told Mission Control while sending a video of his new invention to Earth.
“The way this [cup] works is, the cross section of this cup looks like an airplane wing,” he said. “The narrow angle here will wick the coffee up.”
The result: space coffee in a zero-G cup.
You’d think the hard part about drinking a liquid from a cup in space would be keeping the liquid in the cup, but actually the hard part is getting the liquid out! Coffee, like most liquids, tends to stick to itself and the container it’s in, even rising at the edge of the cup it’s in (called the meniscus.)
By making the cup come together at a sharp angle on one side Pettit gave the cup a special edge that the coffee could climb. This encourages capillary action, a wicking effect to happen which delivers some of the coffee to the lip of the cup where it can be enjoyed.
Now let’s just hope someone can adapt this idea to a half-decent travel mug! Really! Please?