Perhaps one of the most interesting experiments yet, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration took flames into a microgravity environment in an attempt to understand how fire is affected by space and vice versa.
"Understanding how fire spreads in a microgravity environment is critical to the safety of astronauts who live and work in space," wrote NASA in their website. "Fire safety will be a critical element as NASA progresses on the journey to Mars and begins to investigate deep space habitats for long duration missions."
According to the space agency, there have been experiments held with the same objective but unfortunately it wasn't as large a scale as this.
"Previous to this experiment, the largest fire experiment that had been conducted in space is about the size of an index card."
In the three-part experiment termed as Spacecraft Fire Experiment (Saffire), it will be conducted over the duration of flights of the International Space Station's garbage collector, Orbital ATK's Cygnus spacecraft. Saffire-I, the first part of the experiment, ended early this year, in June, when NASA burned a 3-feet by 1-foot cotton and fiberglass material for twenty minutes.
With over 25 gigabytes of data, the scientists studied the characteristics of the flames and the smoke. They concluded that the fire "spread in the direction of wind very steady and surprisingly slow." After doing its mission, the spacecraft proceeded to self-destruct by penetrating Earth atmosphere after it orbited the planet for six days.
According to International Business Times, the second part of the experiment Saffire-II, will look to see if the type of samples and the flames they produce vary in space. NASA will be testing with nine samples.
Hopefully, by the end of Saffire, NASA will have a definite prediction of the risks that its astronauts will be taking every time they venture into the vast space and when they finally send people over to the Red Planet.