Stardust, José Ángel Martín Gago

"In poetry, there are those who associate the sensation of the absence of feeling, existential emptiness, with the sound of a turbine. This, perhaps a cheap metaphor, is physically real if we go underground. Specifically, to the underground of the Institute of Materials Science in Madrid (ICMM), CSIC, where there is a unique machine in the world inside of which there is 'ultra-high vacuum'... and which, on the outside, sounds like a washing machine in full spin. Why is there an eight-meter-long apparatus here, which cost four million euros, weighs as much, and is wrapped in aluminum foil? It does what seemed impossible just ten years ago: create stardust.

Let's break it down. The machine in question is called Stardust (translated literally from English, stardust), and it was born a decade ago. At least in theory. It was in 2013 when the groups led by physicist José Ángel Martín Gago (ICMM-CSIC), astrophysicist José Cernicharo (IFF-CSIC), and astrophysicist Christine Joblin (University of Toulouse, France) started the Nanocosmos project, funded with 15 million euros through the Synergy-European Research Council (ERC): "The idea was to understand how cosmic dust is formed, what is the origin of the chemical diversity in the universe, which is the beginning of chemistry," recalls Gago, now the director of ICMM.

Full report: CSIC INVESTIGA magazine.