An investigation that recently launched to the International Space Station (ISS) on Northrop Grumman’s 10th commercial resupply mission could help provide a better understanding of how the planets formed in our early solar system. The experiment, from a student team at Goethe University Frankfurt in collaboration with DreamUp, is looking at small spherical clusters of minerals called chondrules. Although chondrules are thought to be one of the early building blocks of our solar system, their origin is not well understood.
Our solar system formed out of a solar nebula consisting of gas and dust, and scientists believe that lightning in the solar nebula could have melted dust particles, leading to the formation of chondrules. The student team from Goethe University Frankfurt seeks to test this theory on the ISS National Lab by suspending a silicate dust within a gaseous glass chamber and sending electrical charges through. See this NASA article to learn more about this investigation.