Science 3 min read

NASA to use Lasers in Space to Create the Coldest Temperature in the Universe

NASA just sent a device to the International Space Station that, using lasers, can create the coldest temperature possible -- just above absolute zero. The device could lead to major breakthroughs in the study of quantum mechanics and theory.

NASA

NASA

NASA just sent an instrument to the ISS that is capable of creating the coldest temperature in the universe.

To create the coldest temperature in the entire universe, NASA sent an apparatus capable of doing such a feat to the International Space Station on Monday. According to the NASA scientists, the instrument will be creating “a spot 10 billion times colder than the vacuum of space” and will focus on the quantum behavior of atoms.

Dubbed as the Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL), the apparatus is reportedly the size of an ice chest. It was designed and built by researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California and subsequently launched into space onboard Orbital ATK’s Cygnus rocket.

CAL’s primary purpose is to help researchers observe and better understand the unusual quantum properties of ultracold atoms. Using the lasers and magnets aboard the ISS, CAL will chill atom clouds to an ultracold temperature, known as the Bose-Einstein condensates, which is close to absolute zero (-273.15 Celsius or -459.67 Fahrenheit) — the lowest known possible temperature.

Read More: NASA Funded Self-Assembling Telescope Will Build Itself in Space

To date, absolute zero is considered the coldest temperature in the universe. Scientists believe that it is impossible to achieve since atoms stop moving at that point.

However, CAL could cool down the temperature of the clouds of atoms to just one-tenth of a billionth of a degree above absolute zero. At this temperature, the atoms would not stop but just move extremely slow, eventually exhibiting microscopic quantum phenomena.

“On Earth, freely evolving BEC’s are dragged down by the pull of gravity, and can typically only be observed for a fraction of a second. But in the microgravity environment of the space station, each freely evolving BEC can be observed for up to 10 seconds, which is longer than what’s possible with any other existing BEC experiment,” NASA said.

Read More: New Chip Allows Two-dimensional Quantum Walks

“CAL is a multi-user facility and researchers will be able to conduct experiments remotely, with no astronaut assistance, with up to 6.5 hours of experimentation time available each day.”

CAL will then load the cooled atoms into weak magnetic traps where the scientists can study them. This would allow researchers to study the atoms in many different quantum states and interactions.

“Studying these hypercold atoms could reshape our understanding of matter and the fundamental nature of gravity,” Robert Thompson, a CAL project scientist at JPL, said in a statement. “The experiments we’ll do with the Cold Atom Lab will give us insight into gravity and dark energy — some of the most pervasive forces in the universe.”

Do you believe that NASA will succeed in creating the coldest temperature in the universe?

Found this article interesting?

Let Rechelle Ann Fuertes know how much you appreciate this article by clicking the heart icon and by sharing this article on social media.


Profile Image

Rechelle Ann Fuertes

Rechelle is an SEO content producer, technical writer, researcher, social media manager, and visual artist. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with family and friends.

Comments (0)
Most Recent most recent
You
Scroll to top

Link Copied Successfully

Sign in

Sign in to access your personalized homepage, follow authors and topics you love, and clap for stories that matter to you.

Sign in with Google Sign in with Facebook

By using our site you agree to our privacy policy.