Fifth State of Matter
on January 2017, Astronauts carried a Tiny chip packed with rubidium-87 atoms. At The time the chip subjected to microgravity in that time the tiny chip briefly held the record for being the coldest spot in space.
German researchers still managed to cram in more than 100 experiments. Their results are set to impact how we will one day study big things in the Universe.
The Matter-Wave Interferometry in Microgravity (MAIUS 1) experiment launched from Kiruna in Sweden was the first of several missions aiming to study a special fifth state of matter called a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) under microgravity conditions.
This will help scientists for deep understanding of how particles behave.
MAIUS 1 is the first attempt to create a BEC in freefall.
Usually, BECs need a room of equipment to cool atoms. So researchers from a number of German institutions had to first work together to miniaturise the setup.
The end result was a small chip containing atoms of rubidium, which could be packed inside a sounding rocket – an unpiloted research vessel – and shot up to a height of 243 kilometres (150 miles).
At its summit, the chip cooled its contents to -273.15 degrees Celsius (-459.67 degrees Fahrenheit).
This is a degree colder than the Boomerang Nebula, which holds the honour of being the chilliest natural object we know of. So for a moment that cloud of rubidium atoms was literally the coldest known thing in space.
For six minutes, the rocket experienced minimal gravity, before accelerating back to Earth. In total, the research team poked and prodded the cloud 110 different ways to gauge how gravity affects the trapping and cooling process, and how this cloud behaves in freefall.
Get real time update about this post categories directly on your device, subscribe now.