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Space Station Experiment Reaches Ultracold Milestone

Dragon
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Post by Dragon Tue Jul 31, 2018 6:47 pm

The International Space Station is officially home to the coolest experiment in space.

NASA's Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) was installed in the station's U.S. science lab in late May and is now producing clouds of ultracold atoms known as Bose-Einstein condensates. These "BECs" reach temperatures just above absolute zero, the point at which atoms should theoretically stop moving entirely. This is the first time BECs have ever been produced in orbit.

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Space Station Experiment Reaches Ultracold Milestone 334pu7m
Dragon
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Post by Dragon Tue Jul 31, 2018 6:48 pm

Space Station Experiment Reaches Ultracold Milestone Pia22561-16
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This series of graphs show the changing density of a cloud of atoms as it is cooled to lower and lower temperatures (going from left to right) approaching absolute zero. The emergence of a sharp peak in the later graphs confirms the formation of a Bose-Einstein condensate -- a fifth state of matter -- occurring here at a temperature of 130 nanoKelvin, or less than 1 Kelvin above absolute zero. (Absolute zero, or zero Kelvin, is equal to minus 459 degrees Fahrenheit or minus 273 Celsius).

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Space Station Experiment Reaches Ultracold Milestone 334pu7m
Dragon
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Post by Dragon Tue Jul 31, 2018 6:50 pm

Space Station Experiment Reaches Ultracold Milestone Pia22563-physics-package
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Tyler Winn

Shown here, the "physics package" inside the Cold Atom Lab, where ultracold clouds of atoms called Bose-Einstein condensates are produced.

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Space Station Experiment Reaches Ultracold Milestone 334pu7m
Dragon
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Post by Dragon Tue Jul 31, 2018 6:51 pm



NASA’s Cold Atom Lab will produce clouds of ultra-cold atoms aboard the International Space Station to perform quantum physics experiments in microgravity.

Atoms are chilled to about one 10 billionth of a degree above Absolute Zero, or about 10 billion times colder than the average temperature of deep space.

At those temperatures, atoms behave in strange ways, allowing scientists to investigate the fundamental nature of matter


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Space Station Experiment Reaches Ultracold Milestone 334pu7m

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