A NASA experiment tries to re-create the coldest spot in the universe, using special lasers in a portable laboratory. During the experiment, scientists will create a spot that is billions of times colder than the cold space.
Researchers want to analyze atoms’ quantum characteristics in such conditions. The experiment will take place inside a tiny facility called The Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) on board of the International Space Station (ISS). The ice chest-sized laboratory is run by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
Lasers and magnets will lower the temperature of clouds of atoms to an ultra-cold point, which is close to the lowest temperature possible. The experiment was launched on May 21, but the cargo carrying CAL was deployed to the ISS on Sunday.
Atoms to Reach Ultra-Cold Temperatures
JPL researchers will be able to lower the temperature inside CAL remotely with no input from ISS occupants. The experiment will be conducted for 6.5 hours every day. The clouds of atoms should get close to absolute zero.
The atoms within those clouds are so cold that their speed is greatly reduced. On Earth, it is impossible to study atoms’ quantum features as they cannot be slowed down enough.
In the ISS’ microgravity, the experiment is expected to be a success as there is no gravity to hinder it. Atoms can be slowed down with magnets and lasers to a pace that cannot be achieved on Earth.
The temperature inside CAL will drop to one-tenth of a billion of a degree above absolute zero, according to JPL engineers. NASA first unveiled the experiment on May 10.
The experiment will enable researchers to study atoms on a quantum level, which physicians have been trying to do for quite some time.
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