First scientific paper filed from Spaaaace published today
Plasma boffinry only possible under zero gravity
Hard-working astro-boffins have filed a scientific paper from space. Published today in the journal Europhysics Letters, it is believed to be the first article in an earthly publication ever to have been submitted from outside the planet.
Editor Michael Schreiber said that the journal had always attracted manuscripts from around the globe, and that it welcomed manuscripts from beyond the globe too.
Concerned with the properties of complex plasma, the paper is a team effort: culling the fruits of collaborative research performed over the last 10 years by German and Russian researchers on the International Space Station.
The almost negligible gravity conditions allowed the researchers to experiment on the plasma in a way that they couldn't on Earth. Russian cosmonaut Alexander Alexandrovich Skvortsov performed the experiments last year and a paper reporting on the results was submitted by his colleague Sergey Alexandrovich Volkov from the space station a couple of weeks ago.
In the experiment, Skvortsov measured the speed of sound within complex plasmas. It's a metric that can be used to characterise the structure, properties and behaviour of a certain material. For instance, it can provide information on a material’s elasticity.
Under normal Earth gravity, only thin layer systems of complex plasma can be examined; however, three-dimensional investigations can be performed under microgravity – conditions where gravity is very, very weak.
Introducing the issue, Schreiber said:
I certainly hope to attract further excellent research from beyond the globe. Of course, it is unlikely that we will receive manuscripts from, or beyond, the Moon in the near future. But maybe the first Mars mission is just in time to submit a manuscript in the year of Europhysics Letters golden jubilee in 2036. ®
Direct measurement of the speed of sound in a complex plasma under microgravity conditions is published in EuroPhysics Letters