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Joint laboratory of Freie Universität Berlin and Leibniz-Institute in Leipzig

Laboratory facility for simulating the effects of cosmic ice particles from ocean worlds in space

Laboratory facility for simulating the effects of cosmic ice particles from ocean worlds in space

News from Apr 21, 2020

The Planetary Sciences Group at the Institute of Geological Sciences of Freie Universität Berlin and the Leibniz Institute for Surface Science (IOM) in Leipzig are founding a joint virtual laboratory, the Icy Microparticles Laboratory (IMP-Lab), under a cooperation agreement. Through this laboratory, the long-standing collaboration between the research group at Freie Universität led by Professor Frank Postberg and that of Professor Bernd Abel at IOM in Leipzig is formalized strengthened.

The agreement has recently been signed by the Presidium of Freie Universität Berlin and the IOM leadership, and enables the use of current and future hardware resources by researchers from both institutions. This will not only facilitate and enhance cooperation within the existing ERC project Habitat-OASIS, but will also enable the joint development and implementation of new research projects.

The collaboration focuses on experiments to simulate the icy cosmic dust particles which originate from some moons in the outer solar system. Such particles have already been detected by the Cassini spacecraft, and are expected to be encountered by the upcoming Europa Clipper spacecraft, both missions in which Freie Universität has ongoing involvement. Understanding the composition of these ice grains provides information about processes that occur in the oceans hidden deep under the icy crusts of the moons. Experiments at the new IMP-Lab are an indispensable tool for this research. In addition to investigating the conditions and habitability of the ocean moons, the new cooperation also strengthens the development of novel instruments for future space probes designed to search for traces of life in the outer solar system.

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