NASA announces funding for space station physics research

Jan. 31, 2014 at 7:03 PM
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PASADENA, Calif., Jan. 31 (UPI) -- NASA says it will fund seven proposals for physics research using its new microgravity laboratory, set to launch to the International Space Station in 2016.

The Cold Atom Laboratory will provide an opportunity to study ultra-cold quantum gases in the microgravity environment of the space station, a frontier in scientific research expected to reveal interesting and novel quantum phenomena, the space agency said Thursday.

Operating experiments in space makes it possible to conduct research in a way unachievable on Earth because atoms can be observed over a longer period and mixtures of different atoms can be studied free of the effects of gravity, where cold atoms can be trapped more easily by magnetic fields, it said.

The chosen proposals came from seven research teams, which include three Nobel laureates, in response to NASA's research announcement "Research Opportunities in Fundamental Physics." The proposals will receive a total of about $12.7 million over a four- to five-year period and development of selected experiments will begin immediately, the agency said.

The Cold Atom Laboratory is a joint partnership of three NASA branches; the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., the International Space Station Program Office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston and the Space Life and Physical Sciences Branch at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

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