The summer may have been hot, but NASA’s Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) onboard the International Space Station (ISS) was definitely keeping cool!
The CAL is a multiuser facility on the space station that enables the study of ultra-cold quantum gasses in microgravity using laser cooling technology. The CAL launched to the space station on Orbital ATK CRS-9 in May, and over the summer, the facility began producing Bose-Einstein Condensates (BECs)—clouds of ultra-cold atoms reaching temperatures just above absolute zero.
The CAL, the first facility of its kind in space and the first to produce BECs in orbit, will enable the study of quantum phenomenon in ways not possible on Earth. Such research has the potential to uncover new quantum phenomena and shed light on phenomena that are very difficult to study, such as dark matter and dark energy. Although the CAL is not an ISS National Lab facility, it complements efforts to use the unique platform of the ISS to improve our understanding of the universe.
Check out this video from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to learn more about the CAL facility and how it is producing BECs on the space station!