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This article is on the international collaboration called IMPACT. For the charitable organisation, see IMPACT.
Additional recommended knowledge
IMPACT (International Multi-user Plasma, Atmospheric and Cosmic dust Twin laboratory) is a successful merger of many different science communities that need similar instrumentation and resources. IMPACT is a merger of IMPF (International Microgravity Plasma Facility) and ICAPS (Interactions in Cosmic and Atmospheric Particle Systems), originally conceived as two separate experimental facilities, both with their own development history. In May 2002, the dedicated scientific advisory boards for the IMPF and ICPAS recommended the combination of the two experiments into one ESA research laboratory.
Both projects share hardware, space station accommodation and operations, and data processing and downloading functions in common. By consolidating these systems into a single laboratory significant reductions have been made to the overall project cost, by eliminating the duplication of expensive development, manufacturing, and qualification tasks.
Microgravity plays a fundamental role for achieving the desired scientific objectives: be it by significantly enhancing the resident time of particles within the experimental volume/plasma, by suppressing size-discrimination effects due to the absence of differential motion, by eliminating weight-induced aggregate compaction, or by getting rid of convection instabilities in the carrier gas.
The complexity of the IMPACT facility has led to several precursor instruments. These science precursors aim to demonstrate the feasibility of some of the proposed techniques and to serve the scientists. Although it is clear that these science precursors will not be able to answer all the scientific questions that the scientists have, it will already give them valuable information about some basic processes and will also help to define the scientific programme they want to perform on IMPACT.
Currently, two precursors, PK-4 (Plasmakristallexperiment 4), related to complex plasma physics, and IPE (ICAPS Precursor Experiment), related to atmospheric and cosmic dust physics, are under development.
IMPACT is envisioned to be launched in 2009.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "IMPACT". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|