Baylor's Hypervelocity Impacts & Dusty Plasmas Lab (HIDPL) and Space Science Lab (SSL) conduct experimental research across a number of space physics areas and offers both basic research as well as engineering and design opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students. Current research topics within the HIDPL include laboratory simulations of gravitoelectrodynamics, protoplanetary/protostellar evolution, grain charging in dense and tenuous dusty plasmas, grain coagulation in nebular clouds, and hypervelocity and low velocity shock physics. Additional research is being conducted in the areas of impact studies, dust detector sensor design and calibration.
Current research includes dust detector space flight instrumentation design, calibration and prototyping with the most recent flight instrument (the Piezo Dust Detector) flown on a sounding rocket launched from Wallops in August of 2012 with a second instrument placed in low Earth orbit in 2019.
The HIDPL/SSL is located within the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC) in the Central Texas Technology and Research Park. The BRIC is conveniently positioned to all modes of commercial land-based and airborne transport, providing CASPER researchers, industry/business clients and partnering institutions and organizations with over 300,000 square feet of functional space designed and appointed as laboratories for prototyping and testing, offices and workspace, workforce training, business formation and development activities and meeting/symposium halls. Within the BRIC, CASPER also features museum-quality scientific/technical artifact exhibits designed to spark interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics among area K-12 students and the community in general.
Researchers within the HIDPL/SSL have access to multiple experimental plasma systems covering a wide range of operating conditions including two GEC RF Reference Cells (one of which is equipped with a Zyvex S100 nanomanipulator), a custom RF cell that can accept lower electrodes as large as 24 inches in diameter and an Inductively Coupled Plasma (IPG) system. The labs also contain an electrostatic accelerator fitted for dust particle acceleration, two frequency doubled Nd:YVO4 lasers (Coherent-Verdi), a Ti-Sapphire laser system and a single and two stage light gas accelerator system. Full diagnostics for the above are available.
Full on-site technical support is available in the areas of CAD/CAM, electrical discharge machining, lab safety, lasers, manufacturing, non-destructive testing/preventive maintenance, numerical control integration, plasma drag accelerators, system instrumentation, vacuum systems and welding. On-site fabrication and production capabilities are available through CASPER for use by contracting agencies. (All fabrication or modification requests must be scheduled well in advance of the start of the contract or collaboration.) Information concerning lead times and/or costs should be directed to Truell Hyde.
Specific areas of current interest include:
Low Velocity Impact Studies. Space craft and satellites in orbit around the earth are subject to impacts with dust traveling at speeds ranging from a few meters per second to a few kilometers per second. At the HIDPL, a Light Gas Gun, Linear Accelerator, and several laser hypervelocity impact simulation systems are used to study impact craters, the design of impact and particle trajectory sensors, and the durability of materials used in space. This equipment also serves as a test bed for dust detector design for deep space probes.
- Dusty Plasmas/Plasma Crystal Studies
- Grain charging within coulomb crystals
- EM propagation through dusty plasmas/coulomb crystals
- Transient Heating Events in dusty plasmas/coulomb crystals
- Determination of new penetration equations (ceramics)
- Determination of oblique impact equations
Flight Materials Certification Studies
- Advanced Shielding Development Studies
- Basic Hypervelocity Impact Studies
- Laser Simulation of Hypervelocity Impacts
Engineering/New Program Development Studies
- Development of new shielding techniques/materials