Physical Science Research Proposals Selected for Cold Atom Laboratory

The International Space Station, backdropped by the blackness of space and the thin line of Earth's atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)
The International Space Station, backdropped by the blackness of space and the thin line of Earth’s atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Physical Science Research Program will fund seven proposals to conduct physics research using the agency’s new microgravity laboratory, which is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station in 2016.

NASA’s Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) will provide an opportunity to study ultra-cold quantum gases in the microgravity environment of the space station — a frontier in scientific research that is expected to reveal interesting and novel quantum phenomena. Five of the selected proposals will involve flight experiments using the CAL aboard the space station, and two call for ground-based research to help NASA plan for future flight experiments.

The chosen proposals came from research teams, which include three Nobel laureates, in response to NASA’s research announcement NNH13ZTT002N: “Research Opportunities in Fundamental Physics.” The following proposals will receive a total of about $12.7 million over a four- to five-year period:

  • Dan Stamper-Kurn, University of California, Berkeley, “Coherent magnon optics”
  • Jason Williams, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, “Fundamental Interactions for Atom Interferometry with Ultracold Quantum Gases in a Microgravity Environment”
  • Eric Cornell, University of Colorado, Boulder, “Zero-G Studies of Few-Body and Many-Body Physics”
  • Nathan Lundblad, Bates College, “Microgravity dynamics of bubble-geometry Bose-Einstein condensates”
  • Georg Raithel, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, “High-precision microwave spectroscopy of long-lived circular-state Rydberg atoms in microgravity”
  • Nicholas Bigelow, University of Rochester, “Consortium for Ultracold Atoms in Space”
  • Cass Sackett, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, “Development of Atom Interferometry Experiments for the International Space Station’s Cold Atom Laboratory”

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., is developing the Cold Atom Laboratory. The facility is managed by the International Space Station Program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

The Space Life and Physical Sciences Division of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington manages the Physical Science Research Program.