A number of Irish engineers have gone head over heels for their research, taking a series of gravity defying zero-G flights to run their experiments.

The team from Trinity College Dublin were testing how water behaves when gravity isn't present - research that could help people travel with spacecraft when exploring deep space.

This is because steam is considered to be the best possible future option for powering spacecraft deep into space, as megawatts of power could be unlocked from it.

Water can also be used for many other roles in space, but only if properly managed.

And so the team of TCD engineers accompanied by colleagues from the University of Pisa travelled to France for two weeks to take part in a number of zero-G flights to run tests.

The flights involve a specially modified A310 aircraft climbing to 24,000 feet before making sudden 45o ascent to 32,000 where it levels off.

Once this happens, those on board experience weightlessness for up to 30 seconds before the plane drops back down to cruising altitude again, again at a 45o angle.

The parabola movement often induces motion sickness, leading to the aircraft being labelled the "Vomit Comet".

To counteract the nausea, those on board often take a dose of scopolamine - an agent previously used in interrogation as a "truth serum".

Despite the challenging environment in which the research is carried out, the engineers have made a number of important discoveries from their data analysis.

These include key fundamental mechanisms of evaporation that were previously unknown and this knowledge is now being prepared for publication in top scientific journals.

"Ultimately we want to engineer thermal equipment for spacecraft and satellites," said Dr Tony Robinson, Associate Professor in Trinity's School of Engineering, who was one of those who took the flights.

"But we are still grappling with the science of how liquids evaporate and condense in weightlessness.

"It's a tough multi-scale and multi-physics problem and we have very little hard data in the space environment."

"Basically we are trying to drill down to the very basic physics of how water evaporates in space, and the idea is we keep building upward from here until we know enough that we can engineer really lean equipment for spacecraft.

"In space there is no room for overdesign and certainly no room for mistakes."

The research was also carried out by Dr Seamus O'Shaughnessy, Ussher Assistant Professor in Energy and Sustainable International Development at TCD.