Initiated by Jean Lilensten, from the Institute of Planetology and Astrophysics of Grenoble (IPAG), this experiment is now used with great success on several sites in France and abroad [planeterrella].
The experiment consists of a transparent enclosure inside which there are spheres containing powerful magnets and serving as electrodes. A high vacuum is created in the enclosure thanks to a pump. A difference in electrical potential between the electrodes produces an electrical discharge in the gas.
We realized this device at the LPC2E on the basis of documents which were sent to us by Jean Lilensten and thanks to the enthusiasm of the members of the Mechanical Workshop of the LPC2E (thanks to them!).
We use Planeterrella to introduce our students and the general public to the space environment of Earth and the planets of the solar system.
Contact at LPC2E : Sebastien.Celestin@cnrs-orleans.fr