MKS Instruments, Inc., a global provider of instruments, subsystems and process control solutions, has had its GE50A mass flow controller (MFC) products installed in the PK-4 Plasma Crystal Laboratory in the International Space Station (ISS).
The MFC is part of the latest experiment interface (ExpIF) extension of the PK-4 laboratory that was installed in the European Columbus Research Module of the ISS on 23rd July, 2018. This mission was carried out under a programme funded by the European Space Agency.
The PK-4 Plasma Crystal Laboratory was launched in 2014 to conduct an ongoing series of experiments to determine the behaviour of low-temperature plasmas in space. PK-4 generates complex plasma crystals in a glass tube filled with inert gas. The data derived from various experiments with these complex plasmas can provide new insights into the physics of condensed materials, help to answer fundamental astrophysical questions and enable future applications in semiconductor technology and medicine.
The original PK-4 laboratory module already features a GE50A Mass Flow Controller and other MKS instruments such as the 750C High Pressure Baratron™ Absolute Capacitance Manometer, a 640B Absolute Pressure Controller and a 910 Absolute Piezo Vacuum Transducer.
The GE50A is used to control the flow of neon (Ne), argon (Ar) and mixtures of both gases. Its high accuracy and flexibility in terms of multi-gas, multi-range and communications were the main reasons for integrating the MKS GE50A in the new ExpIF extension module.