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Hosting Legal Entity
University of Stuttgart
Keplerstraße 7, Stuttgart, PO: 70174, Baden-Württemberg (Germany)
Saupfercheckweg 1, Heidelberg, PO: 69117 (Germany)
Type Of RI
Coordinating Country
Current Status:
Under construction since 2014
Operational since 2015
Scientific Description
The Dust Accelerator facility located at Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics (MPIK) in Heidelberg is operated by the University of Stuttgart, Institute of Space Systems (IRS).A 2 MV electrostatic field accelerates micron- and sub-micron-sized dust particles to speeds between 0.5 and 100 km/s. Dust powder used are coated minerals (olivine, pyroxene), organics (coated polystyrene) or metals (Fe, Al, Ni, ...). The dust source provides approx. 30 particles per sec. The speed, charge and mass of each accelerated particle is measured in-situ. A selection electronics can selected individual particles within a certain speed or mass range.The target chambers are available (largest has 1.4 m diameter). A vacuum of 1e-6 mbar is applied.Tests are performed for space instrument development/calibration, space weathering, hyper-velocity impact physics (e.g. mass spectrometry).Studies at the dust accelerator are multi-disciplinary and are relevant in the field of geoscience, physics, chemistry, astrophysics and astrobiology. Phenomena under study include dust charging, dust magnetosphere interactions, dust impact flashes and the possibility of obtaining compositional measurements of impact plasma plumes. Such data has been shown to be of direct relevance to space missions like Galileo, Ulysses, Cassini, Rosetta, Stardust, New Horizon or BepiColombo. Future projects to the Moon, to the inner Solar System (Solar Probe Plus), to the Jovian system and to Saturn will carry dust instrumentation which has to be developed with the help of micrometeoroid impact simulations in the laboratory. The recent Stardust mission collected and returned samples of interplanetary and interstellar dust grains to Earth. Sample preparation and analysis requires the study and understanding of grain-collector material interaction during hypervelocity impacts. Test and calibration of dust collectors and of in-situ dust detectors onboard interplanetary probes or Earth satellites is a major application of the facility. The laboratory generation and analysis of in-situ mass spectra of high-speed organic micro-grain impacts is essential for astrobiology studies and provide the basis for an understanding of the composition of interplanetary or interstellar micrometeoroids. and

RI Keywords
Cassini, Micrometeoroids, Hypervelocity impact physics, Space-weathering, Interplanetary dust, Mass spectrometry, Stardust, Interstellar dust
RI Category
Space Environment Test Facilities
Scientific Domain
Physics, Astronomy, Astrophysics and Mathematics
ESFRI Domain
Physical Sciences and Engineering
Access to Dust Accelerator

Access can be provided upon personal request (operating fees are charged).

Date of last update: 15/01/2018
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