Press release: 23.01.2017

Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequisite for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This principle applies to stones, feathers, and atoms alike. Under conditions of microgravity, very long and precise measurements can be carried out to determine whether different types of atoms actually "fall equally fast" in the gravitational field of the Earth – or if we have to revise our understanding of the universe.
DLR press release