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''Plasma Crystal''

News 2005

December 2005

Progress M55

On December 21st a Soyuz rocket blasted off from the Russian space port in Baikonur, Kasakhstan, to bring the cargo space ship Progress M-55 with flight number ISS-20P to the International Space Station ISS (Image).

Together with supply goods and Christmas presents for the cosmonauts, Progress M55 carried the new plasma crystal experiment 'PK-3 Plus' into earth orbit. PK-3 Plus is to replace the existing plasma crystal experiment 'Nefedov' of the Max Planck Institute that is on board the ISS since 2001. With 'PKE Nefedov' 13 experiment runs were successfully performed by the cosmonauts resulting in numerous results in the field of complex plasmas in microgravity.

The first operation of PK-3 Plus is planned for January 2006.

October 2005


Members of MPE take part in the 41st ESA Parabolic Flight Campaign in Bordeaux (F), supported by colleagues of the Institute of High Energy Density in Moscow. Goals are scientific and apparative experiments with the PK-4 facility that experiences weightlessness for the third time. Under investigation are particle flow through a nozzle, collisions of particles clouds and the excitation of waves in the complex plasma by electrical pulses and intense laser beams.
PK-4 is supported by ESA in project phase A/B now. The operation onboard the ISS is scheduled for 2008.
Crew Nozzle

July 2005

Greg 60

Prof. Gregor E. Morfill, director at the MPE and head of the theory group, celebrates his 60th birthday. Therefore, MPE invites to a colloquium with international guests giving an insight into latest developments in research or honouring common activities with Greg Morfill.

The celebration ends with an entertaining show of the theory group with funny and musical contributions of the members, as well as personal congratulations and presents for Greg Morfill.


You can download some of the musical contributions as MPEG here:
(Watch out for a probable extended download time!): DivX Plug-in not installed? Free download here.       Soundtrack courtesy of *Die Fantastischen Vier und **The White Stripes!   For internal use only!

July 2005

Sergey Krikalev

End of July 2005: Days before the docking of space shuttle Discovery (STS-114) to the International Space Station the 11th ISS crew performs the plasma crystal experiment 'PKE-Nefedov' of the MPE Garching in orbit. Main experimenter is cosmonaut Sergey Krikalev (see picture) who already performed the experiment as a member of the first ISS crew as the first physical experiment facility onboard the ISS in March 2001. This completes the circle: This 13th experiment session is expected to be the last one. The already finished successor of PKE-Nefedov, PK-3 Plus, will be launched to the space station in December 2005.
The fate of PKE-Nefedov is still undecided. If a return with a future space shuttle mission is not possible then the experiment will probably be 'dumped'.

March 2005

PFC39_Day1 Crew

Bordeaux (France): PK-3 Plus, the successor of the complex-plasma facility PKE-Nefedov onboard the International Space Station ISS, participates in the 39th ESA parabolic flight campaign. During the 3 days of the campaign the hardware is to be tested for its function in weightlessness. Despite the short duration of micro-gravity during a flown parabola (20 sec - see former campaigns), the total of 90 parabolas allows a good estimation of the abilities of the apparatus.
Scientists from Garching, together with colleages from a collaborating institute in Moscow, perform the experiments onboard the Airbus A300 Zero-G. If the tests are successful we can give green light to a launch of PK-3 Plus to the ISS at the end of this year.

Zero-G Pull-up   Zero-G Pull-out
Bild: Novespace

January 2005

S. Sharipov and PKE
Bulmahn arrives
Cosmonaut Sharipov with PKE (top),
The minister in the control center (bottom).
(Click to enlarge!)

German astronaut Thomas Reiter (left),
Bulmahn and Prof. Morfill (MPE) (center),
the space station is calling (right).
Late January 2005 will see PKE-Nefedov - MPE's complex plasma experiment onboard the International Space Station ISS - in operation again. Members of MPE will be in the Russian space flight control center near Moscow to survey the experiments in direct contact with the cosmonauts of the ISS. Since 2001, 11 missions (each lasting 3 days) have been flown, leading to more than 15 publications in refereed journals up to now. Therefore PKE-Nefedov is the most activly used scientic facility onboard the ISS. Focus of the upcoming mission is on studying crystallistion processes in complex plasmas.

During this 12th experiment session with PKE-Nefedov the German federal minister of research and education, Mrs. Edelgard Bulmahn (see pictures), visits the Russian space control center in Moscow where the experiments are supervised by scientists from Garching. Mrs. Bulmahn is briefed about this successful German-Russian collaboration in space and takes the opportunity to phone with the cosmonauts onboard the ISS.
Further ministerial talks concern the future extension of the German activity onboard the space station. Thus, German astronaut Thomas Reiter, who experienced a visit on the space station MIR in 1997, will take off towards the ISS for a long-duration stay in late 2005. It is very likely that Thomas Reiter will also perform, at least once, MPE's new plasma crystal experiment in space, PK-3 Plus.

Bulmahn and Reiter Bulmahn and Morfill Bulmahn calling

Video clip of the Russian tv news: AVI (3.2 MB) ©

October 2004

PKE + G. Padalka

The 9th crew of the ISS, Gennady Padalka and Mike Fincke, once more conducted MPE's plasma crystal experiment PKE-Nefedov in space. They provided us a short movie of this event.

Watch the complete movie (MPEG, 4 min, 40 MB).

Excerpts: PKE experiment container inside ISS (MPEG, 9.3 MB),

and Cosmonaut G. Padalka doing the experiment (MPEG, 12.5 MB).

September 2004

Download the PKE-Nefedov promotion clip: MPEG (4:30, 45 MB)

PKE Promo PKE Promo PKE Promo PKE Promo

Excerpt: 3-D graphics of real particle data! MPEG (14 MB)

Updated: 2006-01-13   RS
Contact: Michael Kretschmer mail
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