The Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) is an experimental instrument on board the ISS, which launched in 2018. It creates an extremely cold microgravity environment in order to study behaviour of atoms in these conditions.
The CAL was developed at JPL in Pasadena, California.It was originally scheduled for launch to the International Space Station (ISS) in June 2017. It was then delayed until a scheduled launch on a SpaceX CRS-12 rocket in August 2017. It was finally launched on May 21, 2018. The initial mission will have a duration of 12 months with up to five years of extended operation.
In January 2020 it underwent hardware upgrades, which were carried out over an eight-day period by astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir under the supervision of ground controllers.
The instrument creates extremely cold conditions in the microgravity environment of the ISS, leading to the formation of Bose Einstein Condensates that are a magnitude colder than those that are created in laboratories on Earth.In a space-based laboratory, up to 10 seconds interaction times and as low as 1 picokelvin temperatures are achievable, and it could lead to exploration of unknown quantum mechanical phenomena and test some of the most fundamental laws of physics. These experiments are best done in a freely falling environment, because it is more conducive to uninhibited formation of Bose Einstein Condensates. Ground based experiments suffer from the effect of the Condensate interacting asymmetrically with the apparatus, interfering with the time evolution of the Condensate. In orbit, experiments can last much longer because freefall is sustained indefinitely. NASA's JPL scientists state that the CAL investigation could advance knowledge in the development of extremely sensitive quantum detectors, which could be used for monitoring the gravity of Earth and other planetary bodies, or for building advanced navigation devices.
Absolute zero is the lowest limit of the thermodynamic temperature scale, a state at which the enthalpy and entropy of a cooled ideal gas reach their minimum value, taken as zero kelvins. The fundamental particles of nature have minimum vibrational motion, retaining only quantum mechanical, zero-point energy-induced particle motion. The theoretical temperature is determined by extrapolating the ideal gas law; by international agreement, absolute zero is taken as −273.15° on the Celsius scale, which equals −459.67° on the Fahrenheit scale. The corresponding Kelvin and Rankine temperature scales set their zero points at absolute zero by definition.
In condensed matter physics, a Bose–Einstein condensate (BEC) is a state of matter which is typically formed when a gas of bosons at low densities is cooled to temperatures very close to absolute zero. Under such conditions, a large fraction of bosons occupy the lowest quantum state, at which point microscopic quantum mechanical phenomena, particularly wavefunction interference, become apparent macroscopically. A BEC is formed by cooling a gas of extremely low density to ultra-low temperatures.
The following is a timeline of low-temperature technology and cryogenic technology. It also lists important milestones in thermometry, thermodynamics, statistical physics and calorimetry, that were crucial in development of low temperature systems.
In theoretical physics, a roton is an elementary excitation, or quasiparticle, seen in superfluid helium-4 and Bose–Einstein condensates with long-range dipolar interactions or spin-orbit coupling. The dispersion relation of elementary excitations in this superfluid shows a linear increase from the origin, but exhibits first a maximum and then a minimum in energy as the momentum increases. Excitations with momenta in the linear region are called phonons; those with momenta close to the minimum are called rotons. Excitations with momenta near the maximum are called maxons.
In condensed matter physics, a supersolid is a spatially ordered material with superfluid properties. In the case of helium-4, it has been conjectured since the 1960s that it might be possible to create a supersolid. Starting from 2017, a definitive proof for the existence of this state was provided by several experiments using atomic Bose–Einstein condensates. The general conditions required for supersolidity to emerge in a certain substance are a topic of ongoing research.
A fermionic condensate or Fermi-Dirac condensate is a superfluid phase formed by fermionic particles at low temperatures. It is closely related to the Bose–Einstein condensate, a superfluid phase formed by bosonic atoms under similar conditions. The earliest recognized fermionic condensate described the state of electrons in a superconductor; the physics of other examples including recent work with fermionic atoms is analogous. The first atomic fermionic condensate was created by a team led by Deborah S. Jin in 2003.
Deborah Shiu-lan Jin was an American physicist and fellow with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); Professor Adjunct, Department of Physics at the University of Colorado; and a fellow of the JILA, a NIST joint laboratory with the University of Colorado.
Donald Roy Pettit is an American chemical engineer and a NASA astronaut. He is a veteran of two long-duration stays aboard the International Space Station, one space shuttle mission and a six-week expedition to find meteorites in Antarctica. As of 2018, at age 64, he is NASA's oldest active astronaut.
Wolfgang Ketterle is a German physicist and professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His research has focused on experiments that trap and cool atoms to temperatures close to absolute zero, and he led one of the first groups to realize Bose–Einstein condensation in these systems in 1995. For this achievement, as well as early fundamental studies of condensates, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001, together with Eric Allin Cornell and Carl Wieman.
Lene Vestergaard Hau is a Danish physicist who is currently the Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and of Applied Physics at Harvard University. She received a PhD from Aarhus University. In 1999, she led a Harvard University team who, by use of a Bose–Einstein condensate, succeeded in slowing a beam of light to about 17 metres per second, and, in 2001, was able to stop a beam completely. Later work based on these experiments led to the transfer of light to matter, then from matter back into light, a process with important implications for quantum encryption and quantum computing. More recent work has involved research into novel interactions between ultracold atoms and nanoscopic-scale systems. In addition to teaching physics and applied physics, she has taught Energy Science at Harvard, involving photovoltaic cells, nuclear power, batteries, and photosynthesis. As well as her own experiments and research, she is often invited to speak at international conferences, and is involved in structuring the science policies of various institutions. She was keynote speaker at EliteForsk-konferencen 2013 in Copenhagen, which was attended by government ministers, as well as senior science policy and research developers in Denmark. In acknowledgment of her many achievements, Discover Magazine recognized her in 2002 as one of the 50 most important women in science.
A bosenova or bose supernova is a very small, supernova-like explosion, which can be induced in a Bose–Einstein condensate (BEC) by changing the external magnetic field, so that the "self-scattering" interaction transitions from repulsive to attractive due to the Feshbach resonance, causing the BEC to "collapse and bounce" or "rebound."
Ultracold atoms are atoms that are maintained at temperatures close to 0 kelvin, typically below several tens of microkelvin (µK). At these temperatures the atom's quantum-mechanical properties become important.
John David Reppy is a physicist who studies the quantum properties of superfluids at Cornell University. He is also a notable rock climber of long standing, who established a number of widely known climbing routes particularly in the northeastern United States.
The International Space Station is a platform for scientific research that requires one or more of the unusual conditions present in low Earth orbit. The primary fields of research include human research, space medicine, life sciences, physical sciences, astronomy and meteorology. The 2005 NASA Authorization Act designated the American segment of the International Space Station as a national laboratory with the goal of increasing the use of the ISS by other federal agencies and the private sector.
ELIPS - European Programme for Life and Physical Sciences in Space and applications utilising the International Space Station started in 2001 and was intended to cover the activities for the following 5 years. This Microgravity Programme at the European Space Agency (ESA) is an optional programme, with currently 17 ESA member states participating. The ELIPS programme prepares and performs research on the International Space Station, and other unmanned mission platforms like Sounding Rockets, in fundamental and applied life and physical sciences. ELIPS is the continuation of the earlier European microgravity programmes EMIR 1&2, and the Microgravity Facilities for Columbus, MFC.
Superfluidity is the characteristic property of a fluid with zero viscosity which therefore flows without any loss of kinetic energy. When stirred, a superfluid forms vortices that continue to rotate indefinitely. Superfluidity occurs in two isotopes of helium when they are liquefied by cooling to cryogenic temperatures. It is also a property of various other exotic states of matter theorized to exist in astrophysics, high-energy physics, and theories of quantum gravity. The theory of superfluidity was developed by Soviet theoretical physicists Lev Landau and Isaak Khalatnikov.
The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), a non-profit organization, is the manager of the International Space Station United States National Laboratory, a US government-funded laboratory with principal research facilities located in the United States Orbital Segment of the International Space Station (ISS).
Anita Sengupta is an aerospace engineer. She is a graduate in aerospace and mechanical engineering of the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California. She was the lead systems engineer of the team that developed the parachute system that was deployed during the landing of Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity. She was subsequently the project manager of the Cold Atom Laboratory at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech. She was then the Senior Vice President of Systems Engineering at Virgin Hyperloop One. She is currently Chief Product Officer at Airspace Experience Technologies (ASX).
National Laboratory of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics is the national inter-university research center with the headquarters at Institute of Physics of Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland. Established in 2002, the Laboratory is focused on atomic, molecular, and optical physics (AMO).
The I. I. Rabi Prize in Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics is given by the American Physical Society to recognize outstanding work by mid-career researchers in the field of atomic, molecular, and optical physics. The award was endowed in 1989 in honor of the physicist I. I. Rabi and has been awarded biannually since 1991.
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