The 'Coolest Experiment in the Universe' - NASA’s Cold Atom Lab
The search for ever colder temperatures has been a major theme of physics for over a century, leading to breakthroughs like the discovery of superfluidity and superconductivity, along with the development of laser cooling techniques. NASA’s Cold Atom Lab (CAL) will produce clouds of ultra-cold atoms aboard the International Space Station to perform quantum physics experiments in microgravity. Atoms are chilled to about 10 billion times colder than the average temperature of deep space. They behave in strange ways at such temperatures, allowing scientists to investigate the fundamental nature of matter. Research done on CAL can also have practical applications, such as making improvements to atomic clock technologies, which are used in spacecraft navigation, as well as the GPS satellites that provide navigation information to smartphones. The research could also lead to improvements to quantum sensors used for remote sensing on spacecraft.