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Constance Walter

Researchers with CASPAR (Compact Accelerator System for Performing Astrophysical Research) began installing the accelerator last fall.  "This is the most sensitive piece of equipment in the entire CASPAR setup," said Dr. Frank Strieder, associate professor of physics at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

The ion source, the location for particles before acceleration, will be installed on left end of the column. The black cylindrical-shaped piece on the left acts as a pulley and charging belt - the system that transports the charge to the source, creating the high voltage needed. The belt goes through the rings and the other end is attached to the steel plate. The equipotential rings ensure a homogeneous electrical field all along the acceleration range.

"The installation of the accelerator column represents a critical step in the construction of the CASPAR facility," Strieder said. The next steps include mounting the acceleration tube and the ion source. Later, this entire part of the accelerator will be enclosed in the steel tank and the tank will be filled with an insulating gas - a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen gas.