If the NASA Cold Atomic Laboratory succeeds, it will turn out to reveal some of the most important universal secrets.
If all goes according to plan, the International Space Station will turn into the coldest point in outer space.
In August 2017, NASA plans to conduct an experiment on the ISS, which will provide an opportunity to freeze atoms to less than 1 billion degrees above absolute zero (100 million times lower than in deep space). In a previous statement, NASA reported that the temperature of the experiment was one ten billionth of a degree.
An instrumental set whose size reaches the volume of an ice chest is called the Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL). It consists of a vacuum medium, lasers and an electromagnetic “blade”. All this will slow down the gas particles until they reach a practically stationary state. (Remember that temperature is a measurement of how fast molecules and atoms move.)
If successful, CAL will be able to uncover the deepest secrets of the universe.
“The study of such hypercolloidal atoms could transform our attitude towards matter and the fundamental nature of gravity,” said Robert Thompson, a researcher at Pasadena, California, Jet Propulsion Laboratory. - “Future experiments will help understand gravity and dark matter. And this is one of the most frequently encountered forces in the universe. ” Efforts to reconstruct the Bose-Einstein condensate on Earth before this point were only partially successful. Since everything on the planet is subject to the force of attraction, the atoms and molecules tend to the earth. Therefore, effects are observed only for a split second. But in space, the ISS is in free fall, so the structures are held for 5-10 seconds. (The next CAL versions will increase the duration to hundreds of seconds).
Scientists expect that the results will lead to the improvement of several technologies. Among them: quantum computers, atomic clocks for navigation of space vehicles and various sensors, including those aimed at detecting dark energy. The current model of the universe suggests that we can only see 5%, and the rest is assigned to dark matter (27%) and dark energy (68%).
“It turns out that even with all of our technologies, we are still blind by 95%,” said the deputy director of the CAL project, Kamal Oudriri, in a statement. “Like the new lens that Galileo put in the first telescope, supersensitive cold atoms have the potential to answer questions that remain a mystery to the limits of well-known physics.”
CAL should launch on the ISS in August aboard the Dragon SpaceX robotic cargo capsule. NASA officials said the latest testing is yet to come when CAL is delivered to the launch site at Cape Canaveral, Florida.