MAIUS-2 Experiment in den finalen Startvorbereitungen

Final launch preparations for the MAIUS-2 experiment

In 2017, the MAIUS-1 project succeeded in creating a Bose-Einstein condensate in space for the first time. Now, at the end of this year, the follow-up mission MAIUS-2 is scheduled to take off. The goal: to study the behaviour of a two species Bose-Einstein condensate in space for the first time. For only the comparison of two Bose-Einstein condensates allows highly accurate tests of the universality of free fall, for example.

On 16 October, the payload, i.e. the heart of the MAIUS-2 experiment, which comprises the complete experimental setup, was transported from the Institute of Quantum Optics at Leibniz Universität Hannover to DLR Oberpfaffenhofen in Munich for final tests. In the coming weeks, communication and mechanical tests of the payload will be carried out there in collaboration with the Mobile Rocket Base (MORABA) team before the set-up is sent to Sweden.

Finally, in winter 2023, a sounding rocket will be launched from the European Space and Sounding Rocket Range (ESRANGE) near Kiruna, bringing the experiment to an altitude of over 250 kilometres before crashing back to earth. During the six minutes of microgravity, Bose-Einstein condensates of rubidium (Rb-87) and potassium (K-41) will be produced. For this purpose, the atoms are cooled down to temperatures of up to a few hundred nanokelvin, i.e. just above the theoretical temperature zero point, and thus generate a macroscopic quantum state. The ground state of these condensates and their dynamics can then be studied without the disruptive influence of gravity.

The project, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, has been developed since 2015 by Leibniz Universität and ZARM Bremen in collaboration with HU Berlin and the universities of Mainz and Hamburg. In QuantumFrontiers, the Topical Groups QOSMIG (Quantum Optics and Sensing in Microgravity) and CAS (Cold Atoms in Space) provide the ideal framework for researching quantum gas mixtures in microgravity.

Current news and impressions of the mission preparation can be followed on the Instagram channel maius_mission.