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The Concordia College Hypervelocity Dust Accelerator is used to simulate cosmic dust particles in space.
Using a Van de Graaff accelerator, tiny particles are accelerated through a two million volt potential drop. In going through this potential drop, the particles acquire a very high velocity.
The dust particles used are typically 1 micron in diameter.
Using our standard 1 micron iron particles, we typically achieve velocities of 0.5-14 km/sec.
The creation of the charged particles, the acceleration of the particles and the experiments performed with the dust particles all take place in vacuum. This allows particles to travel without colliding with ambient gas and better simulates the condition of space where cosmic dust impacts occur. Our typical operating pressures are 2 x 10^-6 torr. The system is currently pumped with diffusion pumps backed by mechanical pumps.
Picture of Type A dust taken with an SEM.