Fundamental Physics Tests in Space

The department of Phase 0/A studies concentrates on the formulation of future satellite missions to test fundamental physics with ever increasing accuracy. To achieve the ambitious goals of the various satellite missions, we cooperate with many groups worldwide. In these collaborations, we support the design of the payloads. We identify critical technologies and realize them mainly on a breadboard level. These activities are carried out in close collaboration with the group “Metrology and AIVT”. Furthermore, we support the various satellite missions in formulating the science case and coordinate and manage the mission and the consortium. Currently, we are involved in the satellite mission proposals BOOST, mSTAR, and STE-QUEST.

Mission idea of mSTAR.

The missions mSTAR (mini Space-Time Asymmetry Research project) and BOOST (Boost Symmetry Test) intends to search for violations of the boost invariance using a Kennedy-Thorndike experiment, i.e. testing the dependence of the velocity of light on the velocity of the experiment. To achieve the proposed sensitivity a clock line width of 10-15 and 10-16 is indispensable. Such clocks are developed in cooperation with the group metrology & AIVT.

The STE-QUEST mission and orbit.

We also participate in the STE-QUEST (Space-Time Explorer and QUantum Equivalence principle Space Test) mission, which aims at testing the universality of the gravitational redshift and the equivalence principle. The latter is performed using two clouds of ultra-cold Rubidium isotopes (Bose-Einstein condensates).