Dusty Plasmas at the Drop Tower: Proof-of-Principle (DUFF)

research area: fundamental physics

experiment title:

Dusty Plasmas at the Drop Tower: Proof-of-Principle

experiment acronym: DUFF

funding agency: DLR

grant number: 50WM1538

performing organization:

University of Greifswald

prime investigator:

Prof. Dr. André Melzer

experiment objective


We already have performed a large number of experiments on dusty plasmas under weightlessness on parabolic flights. This drop tower experiment is a reduced version of the parabolic flight experiment and will be used for testing wether the better microgrvity conditions of the drop tower can be exploited for dusty plasma experiments. The main question will be wether in the available 9s of weightlessness dust clouds will form that are suited for further investigation.

A vacuum chamber will be used to ignite an argon plasma at low gas pressure. Small spherical particles that are injected into the plasma will immediately gain a negative charge. The particle-particle interaction will lead to the generation of a three-dimensional dust cloud. Under laboratory conditions, the dust cloud would be very flat and sediment close to the lower electrode due to the particle mass. Under microgravity the dust cloud will fill the entire discharge.

Such volumetric dusty plasmas feature a variety of interesting phenomena like waves, vortices and flows. Using high-speed cameras, the particle motion will be recorded and analyzed.

experiment campaigns

experiment year: 2018
number of drops: 5

experiment year: 2017
number of drops: 4

experiment year: 2016
number of catapult flights: 3
number of drops: 1