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Gravitational Relativistic Physics (GRP)

Laser Cooling and Atomic Physics

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    PRESENT: Ongoing Research
Bose-Einstein Condensation (BEC) title

Launch Date: Late 2004 or 2005
Mission Duration: One year
Principle Investigator: Dr. William Phillips, NIST Gaithersburg


BEC image

Key Questions We Want to Answer:

  • How do interactions between atoms alter the transition to BEC?
  • What excitation modes are observed in the condensate?
  • How cold can the BEC become in microgravity?
  • Can two condensates be prepared in the same volume?
What We Already Know:

Rubidium, sodium, and lithium atoms have already been cooled into the BEC state. Some experiments have been performed on the excitations, generally confirming the quantum nature of the condensate, but the excitations were studied only at higher densities where interactions dominate the energy spectrum.

How We'll Conduct Our Experiment:

The BEC experiment will use a different sort of trap that will permit expansion through the BEC transition to study the nature of the transition under novel conditions. Also, study of two different gases or of two different excitation states of a gas will not suffer from the stratification seen on Earth.

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