The transition from laminar to turbulent flow in helium jets discharged into air was studied using Rainbow Schlieren Deflectometry technique. In particular, the effects of buoyancy on jet oscillations and flow transition length were considered. Experiments to simulate microgravity were conducted in the 2.2s drop tower at NASA Glenn Research Center. The jet Reynolds numbers varied from 800 to 1200 and the jet Richardson numbers ranged between 0.01 and 0.004. Schlieren images revealed substantial variations in the flow structure during the drop. Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) analysis of the data obtained in Earth gravity experiments revealed the existence of a discrete oscillating frequency in the transition region, which matched the frequency in the upstream laminar regime. In microgravity, the transition occurred farther downstream indicating laminarization of the jet in the absence of buoyancy. The amplitude of jet oscillations was reduced by up to an order of magnitude in microgravity. Results suggest that jet oscillations were buoyancy induced and that the brief microgravity period may not be sufficient for the oscillations to completely subside.

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