SETH JOEL / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SETH JOEL / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Space plasma research. Lasers used in the Large Plasma Device (LAPD). The LAPD is a 10 metre long tube which mimics plasma conditions in space. It is the world's finest such device in 1998. Plasma is a state of matter formed from the constituents of atoms. It is found throughout space. The most obvious plasma effect are the Northern Lights, which occur when the solar wind (plasma emitted from the Sun) interacts with the Earth's atmosphere. The LAPD holds and shapes plasma in strong magnetic fields, and the lasers are used to detect the properties of the particles the plasma contains. The LAPD is owned by the University of California in Los Angeles, USA.
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