National Centre of Competence in Research PlanetS
Sidlerstrasse 5 | CH-3012 Bern | Switzerland
  Tel. +41 (0)31 631 32 39


LOSSy – Laboratory for Outflow Studies of Sublimating Materials

In LOSSy, we prepare and analyse analogues of planetary or cometary surfaces composed of dust-ice mixtures to study their optical properties and dynamic evolution under simulated conditions (sublimation, outflow etc.). This laboratory work gives us the ability to predict photometric properties or to interpret observational data of planetary or cometary surfaces.


The first experiment in our ice lab was a photo-goniometer experiment (PHIRE-2; set-up in 2009) which was housed inside a large deep freeze. We have subsequently enhanced this facility and are using the NCCR to take this to another level.

Current Work

Our goal is to expand the labs. to investigate dusty-gas outflows and study dust-ice interactions. We are doing this by using the SCITEAS system to evolve ice samples and the OCTOPUS (Optical Coherence Tomography Of Planetary Ultra-cold Samples) system which is used to characterize the samples. It is capable of imaging the 3D structure of a 10*10 mm area at a resolution of a few microns and down to depths of a few mm. We are using these capabilities to evolve sublimation lag deposits which can result from sublimation of cometary surfaces and from possible cometary residues at the polar caps of Mercury.