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Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics

Dust Accelerator

The CCLDAS dust accelerator beamline. (Courtesy CCLDAS)

The electrostatic dust accelerator at CCLDAS supports investigation into to the physics of micrometeorid impacts, high-speed dust in the lunar environment, and instrument calibration and testing.

How it works:

Dust particles are accelerated electrostatically: A Pelletron generates a 3 MV potential inside a housing filled with protective SF6 atmosphere, which is separated from the vacuum. A dust source mounted inside injects highly charged dust particles for acceleration. After exiting the Pelletron, the particles transit a set of pick-up detectors for initial determination of the charge, mass, and velocity. The particle selection unit (PSU) uses a set of HV deflection plates to stop particles outside the desired mass and velocity range from entering the experimental chamber, and the third pick-up detector confirms the particles’ arrival.

Accelerator facts:

  • Energies up to 3 MV
  • Particle sizes: 0.2—2.5 µ
  • Particle velocities: 1—100 km/s

Community access:

The CCLDAS accelerator is available for use by the larger CU-Boulder research community. For more information, please contact us.

The Arrival and Assembly of the Pelletron:

The following video documents the assembly of the dust accelerator when it arrived at CCLDAS.