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European Space Agency Recognizes Greek University in Video

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Credit: Tilemahos Efthimiadis. CC BY 2

The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and Greece were given special acknowledgment in a video titled “frying in zero gravity.” The European Space Agency posted the video on its Facebook page.

In the video, the Group Dynamics of Multiphase Systems team is conducting an experiment within the university’s chemistry department. Scientists are making French fries on a centrifuge that creates an artificial gravity effect.

The environment created by the centrifuge simulated an effect of three times the earth’s gravity. The video states that the only planet in the solar system with that much gravity is Jupiter.

The astronaut presenting the video says: “If you fried potatoes on Jupiter, they would probably taste better than they do on earth.” The video then goes on to explain the experiment and its aims. There are clips of the Greek research team carrying out the experiment in the context of parabolic flights.

A parabolic flight recreates a state of weightlessness during a zero-gravity aircraft flight. This allows scientific research to be conducted without going into space.

Theodoros Karapantsios, a Greek delegate of the European Space Agency and the director of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki’s Multiphase Dynamics research group, told CNN: “We succeeded and fried real potatoes in zero gravity conditions and we saw what happens.”

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki’s Work on Space Cooking

Karapantsios has participated with his research team in more than twenty technology development projects for application in space. He has also been involved in eleven experimental parabolic flight campaigns.

The laboratory of chemical and environmental technology at the university is also now designing the space fryer. This is, as per the name, a piece of equipment that will allow for frying in space. CNN reported that scientists are already working to solve various technological problems arising from frying in zero gravity. Among these is the odor released in a space that is not ventilated.

The idea for final frontier French fries was born out of a proposal to Karapantsios and his team from NASA and ESA officials. This was during a forum at the headquarters of the US space agency.

According to CNN, although the research team’s primary experimental activities involved boiling in zero gravity, astronauts have admitted that what they miss most on trips away from earth is fries. Hence, the research team took on the challenge.

To conduct the experiment at the university, the deep fryer device was transferred from a laboratory to the air and parabolic flights. The parameters for coordination and timing on these flights were very specific. “Everything had to be organized to a split second,” Karapantsios told CNN.

Members of the research team had to complete parts of the experiment within twenty-five seconds of weightlessness. A total of 186 twenty-five-second parabolic dives were carried out over six days in two parabolic flight campaigns. Thousands of bubbles were released and recorded by high-speed cameras at the time of frying.

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