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CSI experiment shows what a murder in space would look like

CSI experiment shows what a murder in space would look like

The researchers used fake human blood in the 'Vomit Comet'

Ah, the mysterious world of space, a place the majority of us are probably never going to see.

But we can certainly look up at it and wonder about it and imagine how random scenarios might play out... You know, like if there was a murder.

And luckily for those with an interest in that type of space thing – rather than you know, lighter things like what photos astronauts take – a CSI experiment has showed what it would look like.

To help the first space detectives, research explored how forensic science would apply in space.

GREGG NEWTON/AFP via Getty Images

An American CSI investigator doing a doctorate joined a research team from Staffordshire University and the University of Hull to explore the unique challenges of bloodstain pattern analysis aboard a spacecraft.

Because as we all know, the microgravity changes the way things move about on a spacecraft.

So, experiments were conducted on a Zero Gravity Corporation modified Boeing 727 parabolic aircraft.

And get this, the adapted spacecraft is nicknamed the ‘Vomit Comet’ – previously being boarded by the likes of Stephen Hawking and Martha Stewart.

To conduct the experiment, glycerin and food colouring was combined to simulate human blood, with droplets then propelled from a hydraulic syringe toward a target during periods of reduced gravity between 0.00 and 0.05 g.

Then from these ‘blood’ stains, the researchers could reconstruct the angele of impact.

Zack Kowalske, a Crime Scene Investigator based in the US, led the study as part of his PhD research at Staffordshire University.

The researchers looked at bloodstain patterns.

He said: “Studying bloodstain patterns can provide valuable reconstructive information about a crime or accident. However, little is known about how liquid blood behaves in an altered gravity environment. This is an area of study that, while novel, has implications for forensic investigations in space.”

Kowalske explained that forensic science isn’t just about solving crimes but ‘has a role in accident reconstruction or failure analysis’.

The study, published in Forensic Science International Reports, revealed that blood in space is more likely to stick to surfaces.

The researchers also found that blood drops have shapes and sizes that wouldn’t be reflective on Earth.

Co-author Professor Graham Williams, from the University of Hull, explained: “With the lack of gravitational influence, surface tension and cohesion of blood droplets are amplified.

Things are pretty different in space.
Getty Stock Image

“What this means is that blood in space has a higher tendency to stick to surfaces until a greater force causes detachment.

“Within the application of bloodstain formation, it means that blood drops exhibit a slower spread rate and, therefore, have shapes and sizes that would not be reflective on Earth.”

This is the first time the behaviour of blood in free flight has been studied and the authors say this need for reliable forensic science techniques is going to become increasingly important.

Kowalske added: “We find ourselves in a new era of forensic science; just as mid-19th century research asked the question of what a bloodstain meant in relation to cause; we are once again at the beginning of new questions that tie in how new environments influence forensic science.

“Research is needed, research that spans across all disciplines.”

Featured Image Credit: SWNS / Getty Stock Image

Topics: Science, Space, Crime