The BOOst Symmetry Test (BOOST) Satellite Mission Testing Special Relativity

BOOST is a small satellite mission that aims for testing the
foundations of Special Relativity by performing a Kennedy-Thorndike
(KT) experiment. A potential boost dependence of the velocity of light will be
measured by comparing a length reference (i.e. a highly stable optical resonator) with
a molecular frequency reference. By employing clocks with 10-15 frequency stability
at orbit time (90 min) and by integration over 5000 orbits (2 years mission lifetime
with 50% duty cycle) at least 100-fold improvement in measuring the Kennedy-
Thorndike coefficient is targeted, compared to the current best terrestrial test.


The following questions are to addressed in the BOOST mission:
*What is the symmetry of spacetime? Up to which accuracy is Special Relativity
valid?
*Is there a deviation of the constancy of the light speed at a minuscule scale?
*What is the nature of space-time and which theories can (cannot) describe it?
*How do matter and energy, space and time behave under the extreme conditions,
e.g. short after the big bang?

Although at a speculative level, measurements at the edge of the known theories
certainly open the window to new exciting physics. Many areas of fundamental
physics (like e.g. theories that describe the Big Bang, inflationary periods and
quantum field theories) are expected to be impacted by results that test the present
validity of Special Relativity.


But not only the purely scientific questions is what makes BOOST an outstanding
project. As it will involve different high precision technologies to achieve an
unprecedented frequency stability with a molecular frequency standard and a length
based one, it will have a strong impact on other satellite missions and fundamental
physics experiments that are being proposed: eLISA/NGO, DECIGO, ASTROD,
Darwin, etc.

Contact: Dr. Thilo Schuldt and Dr. Deborah N. Aguilera

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