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''Plasma Crystal''

Latest News!

December 2012

Note!   'Plasma Crystal Latest News' will be terminated

Please visit the new MPE homepage for latest news about the Theory/Complex Plasma group. Thank you very much for your interest.

September 2012

Day 1 crew: Michael, Ralf, Chengran

Day 2 crew: Ralf, Lisa, Chengran

Day 3 crew: Ralf, Slobodan, Lisa
(All pictures courtesy of Michael Kretschmer)

PlasmaLab: Third Parabolic Flight Campaign

For the third time PlasmaLab - the next-generation MPE experiment with complex plasmas in microgravity - was elected to take part in a parabolic flight campaign of the German Aerospace Center (Ext. linkDLR) in Bordeaux, France. Eight MPE staff members were there to mount and test the hardware in the aircraft and perform experiments in flight.


Lead by Dr. Christina Knapek this time the test program included the newly developed Zyflex and Dodecahedron plasma chambers (see pictures below), and also the new 4-channel high-frequency generators. The Zyflex chamber is a plasma chamber with cylindrical and flexible geometry. The Dodecahedron is a nearly spherical plasma chamber with 12 electrodes made out of glass to create a spherical and isotropical plasma. Both chambers are to study complex plasmas in microgravity in an expanded parameter range.

The PlasmaLab project is to continue the successful series of complex plasma laboratories of the MPE onboard the International Space Station ISS (PKE-Nefedov (2001-2005), PK-3 Plus (2006-2013), PK-4 (launch in 2014)). It is supported by DLR.

 Kammer   Kammer
Zyflex (left) and Dodecahedron (right) plasma chambers.

February 2012

EMC Tests at SGS, Munich

PK-4 EAA (Detail)
(Pictures courtesy of MK)

PK-4: EMC tests passed!

MPE's PK-4 experiment has taken another milestone on its way to the ISS. Before launch the European Space Agency (ESA) requests the proof that the device does not interfere with other devices (experiments or safety-related components) onboard the Space Station through electro-magnetic radiation, nor gets disturbed by the radiation of devices around. This is called EMC: Electro-magnetic compatibility. This test was done with the 'engineering model' (the precursor of the final 'flight model') of PK-4 at Ext. linkSGS in Munich. (See picture on the left: PK-4 integrated into an ISS-like rack structure inside a shielded testing room at SGS.)

At this test the radio frequencies that are emitted by the device in operation are measured. This allows the conclusion whether sur­rounding devices may be effected or not. At the next test some powerful radio waves are 'shot' with antennas at the apparatus and the reactions are observed. Since PK-4 records videos of micro-particles inside a plasma the video images are inspected carefully as an indication of inference.

The first test did not show up any significant emissions from PK-4 in the range between several Kilohertz and a few Gigahertz. This was expected because the experiment setup is enclosed inside a hermetically sealed metal container where no electro-magnetic radiation is supposed to come out. And for the opposite direction it is the same. Despite of radiating powerful radio waves onto PK-4 with frequencies up to 4 GHz during operation no interference could be observed. Because it would be most obvious in the video recordings the images (see below) were analyzed but no changes have been found. This allows us to say: Test passed successfully!

After passing the vibration test in December, the thermal test in January, and the EMC test now the next step will be the integration test. This will be done at the ground model of the EPM rack at Ext. linkCADMOS in Toulouse, France, where everything has to 'fit'. The future flight model of PK-4 is planned to be integrated into the EPM rack inside the European Columbus module on the space station. If all these tests are passed successfully this will open the way to a launch to the ISS in 2013-14.

No interference: The PK-4 plasma tube seen clearly through three
different filters during the EMC test.

News 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005

Updated: 2013-02-08
Contact: Michael Kretschmer mail
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