Instrumentation

The design of the different NANOCOSMOS experimental setups was performed during the first year of the project. Gathering parts, construction, assembly, and technical commissioning were performed during the 2nd year for most setups.

Stardust machine

The Stardust machine is producing cosmic dust analogues by combining three magnetrons for the production of atoms. We are simulating astrophysical processes such as the effect of radiation-pressure on cosmic dust and its reactivity as a function of the translational energy. Also, the particles are submitted to strong infrared radiation in flight to simulate their heating in AGB stars, thanks to the design of an in-flight heater stage.

AROMA setup

AROMA is showing its capacities to provide insights into the chemical scenarios involved in the formation of large molecules via efficient detection of PAHs, fullerenes, and carbon clusters (some of them partially hydrogenated). Studies using the reactor at Laplace (Laboratory on Plasma and Conversion of Energy, Toulouse) allowed us to progress on our understanding of the formation of PAHs from C2H2.

PIRENEA 2

PIRENEA 2 is a unique machine to study the physical and chemical properties of dust analogues in cosmic conditions. It has been mentioned as a promising instrument for the future in the field of cryogenic Fourier Transform – Mass Spectrometry technologies in a recent review on these topics by S. Dillinger and G. Niedner-Schatteburg, in Fundamentals and Applications of Fourier Transform Mass Spectrometry, Elsevier 2018).

HEMT receivers

New radio astronomical receivers (HEMT) have been successfully commissioned (12/2017) and interfaced with the Gas Cell evolution chamber (02/2018, see below). The system comprises radio telescope receivers operating in the 32-50 GHz (Q band) and 72-116 GHz (W band) domains interfaced with fast Fourier transform spectrometers providing full band instantaneous coverage with 38 KHz resolution. Current developments concern the installation of the receivers on the IGN 40m radio telescope at the Yebes Astronomical Observatory.

Gas Cell for chemical evolution

A prototype of the Gas Cell evolution chamber was installed in the electric pathway of the 40 m radio telescope and in front of the radio receivers. The need for high-vacuum windows transmitting in the 30-116 GHz domain was a technological challenge successfully achieved full transmittance with teflon windows. This is the first experimental setup providing broadband rotational spectroscopy of cold plasmas and UV photochemistry. The final Gas Cell evolution chamber was successfully commissioned during the first semester of 2018

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