Press Release Describes Use of ISS for Relativity Tests

A recent article published by Alan Kostelecky and colleagues at Indiana University describes how clocks placed on the international Space Station can provide unique tests of Einstein's theory of General Relativity. A press release announcing this use of the ISS has just been made public at NASA's OBPR web site, and at JPL ( ). Kostelecky is quoted to say that, if the clock tests on ISS are found to violate the theories of General Relativity, then "Finding such changes would cause an upheaval in the science community and revolutionize our thinking about the fundamental structure of space and time. It would lead to insight about how our universe formed and how nature operates."

The article relates that measurements in space have several advantages over ones on Earth because the Earth's rotation axis and its rotation rate are fixed. In space the orbital axis of a satellite and its rotation rate can be different from those of the Earth, and higher speeds are possible. Measurements in space would therefore be more sensitive to minute changes that would violate Einstein's Theory of Relativity.

The paper by Kostelecky and his colleagues appeared in the March 4 issue of the Physical Review Letters. It is available online at: volume 88, article 090801 for 2002.

Animation of the proposed space station experiments is available at

NOTE: The press release has had responses from the following media:

  • Scientific American Online
  • BBC Radio's "Today" program
  • Science and Technology News Network
  • Toledo Blade newspaper in Ohio
  • KYMO Radio, an ESPN Radio affiliate in East Prairie, Missouri, plans to interview Dr. Kostelecky for a segment called "Sporting Nature"
  • CNN Headline News
  • Space News
  • WISH-TV, Indianapolis