Lab- and space-based researchers discuss plasma experiments



Plasma physics provides a common language and set of approaches that tie together all scientists who study the acceleration, transport, and loss processes of the plasma state. Some years ago, researchers from the laboratory and space research communities suggested a workshop to bring together the diverse researchers in the respective fields. A series of workshops on the “Interrelationship between Plasma Experiments in the Laboratory and Space” (IPELS) was established, and the third meeting was held July 24–28, 1995, in the beautiful and historic town of Pitlochry in the Scottish Highlands.

The conference reestablished the critical point that plasma physics is an important but surprisingly diversified research discipline. Meetings attendees discussed a number of new approaches to plasma research, including novel diagnostic techniques for use in space, such as active antennas and electric field sounding devices. Detailed discussions covered spacecraft-plasma environment interactions, including vehicle charging and neutral gas release; fundamental aspects of industrial application of dusty plasmas and waves in dusty plasmas; a very distinctive phase transition of coulomb crystals (from solid state to liquid state) in dusty plasmas; and terrella experiments to simulate and study chaotic transport in the ionosphere.