Plasmakristall-4: New complex (dusty) plasma laboratory on board the International Space Station.


New complex-plasma facility, Plasmakristall-4 (PK-4), has been recently commissioned on board the International Space Station. In complex plasmas, the subsystem of μm-sized microparticles immersed in low-pressure weakly ionized gas-discharge plasmas becomes strongly coupled due to the high (10(3)-10(4) e) electric charge on the microparticle surface. The microparticle subsystem of complex plasmas is available for the observation at the kinetic level, which makes complex plasmas appropriate for particle-resolved modeling of classical condensed matter phenomena. The main purpose of PK-4 is the investigation of flowing complex plasmas. To generate plasma, PK-4 makes use of a classical dc discharge in a glass tube, whose polarity can be switched with the frequency of the order of 100 Hz. This frequency is high enough not to be felt by the relatively heavy microparticles. The duty cycle of the polarity switching can be also varied allowing to vary the drift velocity of the microparticles and (when necessary) to trap them. The facility is equipped with two videocameras and illumination laser for the microparticle imaging, kaleidoscopic plasma glow observation system and minispectrometer for plasma diagnostics and various microparticle manipulation devices (e.g., powerful manipulation laser). Scientific experiments are programmed in the form of scripts written with the help of specially developed C scripting language libraries. PK-4 is mainly operated from the ground (control center CADMOS in Toulouse, France) with the support of the space station crew. Data recorded during the experiments are later on delivered to the ground on the removable hard disk drives and distributed to participating scientists for the detailed analysis.

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@article{Pustylnik2016Plasmakristall4NC, title={Plasmakristall-4: New complex (dusty) plasma laboratory on board the International Space Station.}, author={M. Y. Pustylnik and Mathias A. Fink and Vladimir Nosenko and Tetyana Antonova and Tanja Hagl and Hubertus M. Thomas and Andrey V. Zobnin and Andrey M Lipaev and Alexander D. Usachev and Vladimir I Molotkov and Oleg F. Petrov and V. Fortov and Charles A. Rau and C Deysenroth and Susan A. Albrecht and Manuel Kretschmer and Markus H. Thoma and Gregor Morfill and R Seurig and A. Stettner and V A Alyamovskaya and Astrid Orr and E Kufner and E G Lavrenko and Gennady Padalka and E O Serova and A M Samokutyayev and S Christoforetti}, journal={The Review of scientific instruments}, year={2016}, volume={87 9}, pages={093505} }