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Topic: NASA Cold Atom Laboratory

NASA’s Cold Atom Lab aboard International Space Station takes One Giant Leap for Quantum Science

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – This month marks 25 years since scientists first produced a fifth state of matter, which has extraordinary properties totally unlike solids, liquids, gases and plasmas. The achievement garnered a Nobel Prize and changed physics.

A new study in the journal Nature builds on that legacy. In July 2018, NASA’s Cold Atom Lab became the first facility to produce that fifth state of matter, called a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC), in Earth orbit. A fundamental physics facility on the International Space Station, Cold Atom Lab cools atoms down to ultracold temperatures in order to study their basic physical properties in ways that would not be possible on Earth.

This image shows six finely tuned lasers used inside NASA's Cold Atom Lab to slow down atoms, lowering their temperature. This is step one in a three-step cooling process. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This image shows six finely tuned lasers used inside NASA’s Cold Atom Lab to slow down atoms, lowering their temperature. This is step one in a three-step cooling process. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Cold Atom Lab arrives at International Space Station

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA Astronaut Christina Koch recently gave a warm welcome to a very cool arrival to the International Space Station: a new piece of hardware for the Cold Atom Lab, an experimental physics facility that chills atoms to almost absolute zero, or minus 459 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 273 degrees Celsius). That’s colder than any known place in the universe.

The Cold Atom Lab has been up and running in the space station’s science module since July 2018 and is operated remotely from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Five groups of scientists on Earth are using the Cold Atom Lab to conduct a variety of experiments to help answer questions about how our world works at the smallest scales.

NASA Astronaut Christina Koch unloads new hardware for the Cold Atom Lab aboard the International Space Station the week of December 9th, 2020.  (NASA)

NASA Astronaut Christina Koch unloads new hardware for the Cold Atom Lab aboard the International Space Station the week of December 9th, 2020. (NASA)

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NASA’s Cold Atom Laboratory produces coldest temperatures known

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA asks what’s the coldest place you can think of? Temperatures on a winter day in Antarctica dip as low as -120ºF (-85ºC). On the dark side of the Moon, they hit -280ºF (-173ºC). But inside NASA’s Cold Atom Laboratory on the International Space Station, scientists are creating something even colder.

The Cold Atom Lab (CAL) is the first facility in orbit to produce clouds of “ultracold” atoms, which can reach a fraction of a degree above absolute zero: -459ºF (-273ºC), the absolute coldest temperature that matter can reach.

The International Space Station, shown here in 2018, is home to many scientific experiments, including NASA's Cold Atom Laboratory. (NASA)

The International Space Station, shown here in 2018, is home to many scientific experiments, including NASA’s Cold Atom Laboratory. (NASA)

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NASA reports Cygnus Resupply Ship now attached to International Space Station

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo ship was bolted into place on the International Space Station’s Earth-facing port of the Unity module at 7:13am CDT. The spacecraft will spend about seven weeks attached to the space station before departing in July. After it leaves the station, the uncrewed spacecraft will deploy several CubeSats before its fiery re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere as it disposes of several tons of trash.

Orbital ATK’s Cygnus was launched on the company’s Antares rocket Monday, May 21st, from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The spacecraft’s arrival brings about 7,400 pounds of research and supplies to support Expedition 55 and 56.

International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are attached to the space station including the Orbital ATK Cygnus resupply ship, the Progress 69 resupply ship and the Soyuz MS-07 and MS-08 crew ships. (NASA)

International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are attached to the space station including the Orbital ATK Cygnus resupply ship, the Progress 69 resupply ship and the Soyuz MS-07 and MS-08 crew ships. (NASA)

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NASA to use Super Low Temperatures to slow Atoms for observation on International Space Station

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – This summer, an ice chest-sized box will fly to the International Space Station, where it will create the coolest spot in the universe.

Inside that box, lasers, a vacuum chamber and an electromagnetic “knife” will be used to cancel out the energy of gas particles, slowing them until they’re almost motionless. This suite of instruments is called the Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL), and was developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. CAL is in the final stages of assembly at JPL, ahead of a ride to space this August on SpaceX CRS-12.

Its instruments are designed to freeze gas atoms to a mere billionth of a degree above absolute zero. That’s more than 100 million times colder than the depths of space.

Artist's concept of an atom chip for use by NASA's Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) aboard the International Space Station. CAL will use lasers to cool atoms to ultracold temperatures. (NASA)

Artist’s concept of an atom chip for use by NASA’s Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) aboard the International Space Station. CAL will use lasers to cool atoms to ultracold temperatures. (NASA)

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