- Press Release
- Feb 7, 2023
Flying fish in Zero G
ESA’s 31st parabolic flight campaign, on board the Airbus A-300 ‘Zero-G’,
finished on 18 October 2001. The 50 or so scientists who joined the
campaign had only one aim — to make the utmost of this unique opportunity
to gain new results in various fields, such as the physical and life
sciences. Among the scientists were a group of Swedish students and their
The Swedish students, from the University of Lund, recorded the motion of
four fish under various lighting conditions — from above, from below,
from the side and without any light. Under microgravity the fish tended
to align themselves so that the light came from above. When there was no
light, the fish used pressure sensors on their body to align themselves
with respect to rods installed in the aquarium.
While the fish survived the rigours of zero-g unscathed, others did not
find things quite so comfortable. Help was on hand though in the form of
the ‘orange angels’, the security guards, who as always were ready with
the sick bags.
On each of the flight days, 16, 17 and 18 November, a total of 31
parabolas were performed. The flights were conducted over the Gulf of
Biscay on 16 and 18 October and over the Mediterranean Sea on 17 October,
under the safe and experienced piloting of flight commander Gilles
Lebarzic from the ‘Centre d’Essais en Vol’, of the French Ministry of
Two TV crews joined the scientists on the flight campaign, one for a
children’s educational programme in Sweden, who were interested in the
fate of the fish, and one from the German news programme SAT1.
In order to prepare the experiments and to install them safely in the
‘Zero-G’ Airbus, the scientists arrived in Bordeaux one week before the
flights. Participation in a parabolic flight campaign not only requires
special medical tests, but due to on board security measures each
participant also has to undergo the so called ‘Flight Briefing’ one day
before the first flight.
ESA’s next parabolic flight campaign, the 32nd, due to take place in
March 2002, may possibly include several parabolas at a partial g level
of 0.4g which is equivalent to that experienced on Mars.
To learn more about the 31st campaign and the ten experiments which took
part, please visit the following website:
* Microgravity at Merignac
* The busiest ever ESA parabolic flight campaign ready to take off
* Experiments and scientists involved in the 29th ESA parabolic flight campaign
* Falling upwards: how to create microgravity
* ESA Parabolic Flights
* ESA Press Release No. 53-2001
On ESA’s 31st parabolic flight campaign, students from the University of
Lund, Sweden, recorded the motion of four fish under various lighting
conditions — from above, from below, from the side and without any light.
Under microgravity the fish tended to align themselves so that the light
came from above. When there was no light, the fish used pressure sensors
on their body to align themselves with respect to rods installed in the
ESA astronaut André Kuipers is interviewed in 0g by TV journalist Michal
Locher from German TV news programme Sat1.
The team for ESA’s 31st parabolic flight campaign in front of the Airbus