Influences of support fibers on shapes of heptane/hexadecane droplets in reduced gravity
This paper describes analytical and experimental results related to the effects of support fibers on shapes of heptane/hexadecane mixture droplets (both burning and evaporating) in reduced gravity. The experimental results were obtained from large droplets (a few mm) investigated during the MSL-1 Flight of Spacelab. Theoretical (asymptotic) analyses are developed to predict droplet shapes. These analyses, which predict droplet shapes very well, illustrate important aspects of droplet shapes in a transparent fashion. The asymptotic theory shows that for small droplet-fiber contact angles, two spatial zones exist where droplet shapes behave differently. Away from a fiber, a droplet is essentially spherical. As the fiber is approached, however, deviations from spherical symmetry are significant. Previously developed analytical theory to predict macroscopic droplet shapes also compares well with experimental results. In addition, the experiments indicate that thin liquid films can form on support fibers. In the present experiments, these films apparently lead to transient formation of small droplets/bubbles on the support fibers at locations near the surface of a droplet.