A fifth exotic state of matter recreated on the International Space Station


Thanks to the microgravity environment, the International Space Station (ISS) is an extraordinary laboratory that allows experiments impossible on Earth to be performed. For example, the formation of a Bose-Einstein condensate, where atoms, cooled to a temperature close to absolute zero, behave like bosons and all occupy a single quantum state. This can be interpreted as a fifth state of matter, different from solids, liquids, gases and plasmas. The experiment carried out on the ISS shows that the condensate also seems to behave differently in space, which is explained in a study published on June 11 in the journal Nature. The New Scientist tells the story.

©Resonance Science Foundation 

The interest of the International Space Station. Predicted in 1925 by Einstein, the first such gas condensate was produced in 1995. Since then, hundreds of laboratories have been able to produce it routinely. But the problem is that the exotic matter thus obtained is extremely fragile, and is disturbed by the earth’s gravity. A handicap that the Cold Atom Lab, a laboratory installed in 2018 within the ISS, is free of. This will allow to study the condensate, here obtained from rubidium atoms, for more than a second, while the best terrestrial facilities do not exceed several hundredths of a second…


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