A Laboratory In Space By NASA
Post on 06,February 2018   5:00 AM
By - PolyEyes Staff
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NASA is planning to send an experimental instrument called Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) on board SpaceX CRS-12 to International Space Station to create coldest spot known in the universe with an aim to study matter at temperatures far below anything found naturally.

About Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL): This ice chest- sized box has been developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The box will have lasers, a vacuum chamber and an electromagnetic “Knife” to cool atoms to 100 Pico Kelvin (one ten-billionth of a degree above absolute zero). At such low temperature all activities of atom theoretically stops. When atoms are cooled to such low temperatures, they form a distinct form of matter called Bose-Einstein Conden sate.

In such state matter behave less like particles and more like waves. Observing atoms in Bose-Einstein condensate form in earth is extremely difficult because of gravity which continuously pulls the atoms towards the ground. This prevents atoms from holding on to their wavelike form for longer period to be observed.

However in space ultra- cold atoms can hold on to their wave like forms longer because of no gravity.

Concluding Remark: The philosophy was to build a mini-lab in space and put in some of the standard tools to facilitate investigators will use it to do some of these different investigations. The research could lead to new understandings of matter, dark matter, and could lead to the development of new sensors, quantum computers and atomic clocks used in spacecraft navigation, according to a news release from NASA.

One of the things to do is something that could be considered a recreation of Galileo's Leaning Tower of Pisa experiment, but dropping atoms from different elements, rather than dropping far larger objects.

Another fruit of the effort could be atom interferometers, which are incredibly sensitive to a lot of things we would want to measure, such as gravity and magnetic forces.

Interferometers come in configurations and use different technologies, but in general they are instruments that can obtain extremely precise measurements of physical phenomena.

Another kind of interferometer, at the lab LIGO, was used to confirm the existence of gravitational waves. Apart from what they could tell physicists, the highly sensitive nature of atomic interferometers could also prove valuable for navigation systems in spacecraft.


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