MUNICH Following the signing of the ‘transfer of operations’ contract between the Max Planck Society and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the DLR is to become the home of plasma research in Bavaria. Bavaria's Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Franz Josef Pschierer emphasised that "the transfer has been a success. I was happy to take on the role of broker for the process. Without it, it would have been impossible to pursue the research topic of "Complex Plasmas" further after the scientific head of the Max Planck Society, Prof. Dr. Gregor Morfill, retired in the summer."
The scientific work of the 'Complex Plasmas' field of research at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching will now be seamlessly continued at the DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen. "The valuable findings can now continue to be implemented and used for possible applications," says Pschierer. "Space research is already in full swing at the DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen and will be able to integrate the findings made by Prof. Morfill through previous plasma experiments on the International Space Station well. Cumulated financial support from the Space Administration and the federal and state governments in the future and the third party funding that has been successfully attracted will allow application-orientated research and development to continue at a high level in the future, including in the field of plasma technology."
Plasma research is one of the most successful experiments to have been conducted under zero gravity, and is part of a German-Russian cooperation on the International Space Station (ISS). As part of the research on the ISS, the group of researchers works closely together with Russian partners. The next laboratory for experiments in zero gravity using plasma crystals is planned to enter operation in the European section of the ISS in 2014. This will allow the Bavarian space programme's 'Foundation and Applied Research with Cold Plasmas' field of action to be continued and the federal government's requirement that the ISS be used for excellent science to be met. Thanks to the plasma research group, Bavaria is the German leader when it comes to terrestrial applications for scientific space work.
The Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs will be providing the working group with up to five million euros of funding over the next five years. It is this that has enabled funding on a similar scale to be generated for the Oberpfaffenhofen site from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and from the Space Administration in Bonn.
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