Upgrading the Space Station’s Cold Atom Lab With Mixed Reality

NASA is looking into whether mixed reality technology could help with repairs and upgrades on the cutting-edge Cold Atom Lab aboard the space station.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Cold Atom Lab is a first-of-its-kind physics laboratory operating in Earth orbit. About the size of a mini-fridge, it hosts multiple experiments that explore the fundamental nature of atoms by cooling them down to nearly absolute zero (the coldest temperature matter can reach). The ultracold atoms provide a window into the quantum realm, where matter exhibits strange behaviors that underpin many modern technologies.

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Nine Ways We Use AR and VR on the International Space Station

Credit: NASA

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Even the most highly trained and experienced person sometimes needs a hand. For astronauts aboard the International Space Station, that helping hand comes from other crew members, experts on the ground, and increasingly, in the form of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

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What We Learned This Year from Space Station Science

NASA astronaut Anne McClain is pictured in the cupola holding biomedical gear for the Marrow experiment. The study measures fat changes in the bone marrow before and after exposure to microgravity. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Dozens of experiments are going on at any given time aboard the International Space Station. Research conducted in 2020 is advancing our understanding in areas of study from Parkinson’s disease to combustion.

Space station research results published this year came from experiments performed and data collected during the past 20 years of continuous human habitation aboard the orbiting laboratory. Between October 1, 2019, and October 1, 2020, the station’s Program Research Office identified more than 300 scientific publications based on space station research.

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NASA’s Cold Atom Lab Produces Fifth State of Matter on Space Station

This artist’s illustration shows six finely tuned lasers being used to slow down atoms inside NASA’s Cold Atom Lab, which chills atoms to almost absolute zero. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA/JPL-Caltech PR) — This month marks 25 years since scientists first produced a fifth state of matter, which has extraordinary properties totally unlike solids, liquids, gases and plasmas. The achievement garnered a Nobel Prize and changed physics.

A new study in the journal Nature builds on that legacy. In July 2018, NASA’s Cold Atom Lab  became the first facility to produce that fifth state of matter, called a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC), in Earth orbit.

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A Warm Space Station Welcome for Cool New Hardware

Astronaut Christina Koch unloads new hardware for the Cold Atom Lab aboard the International Space Station the week of Dec. 9, 2020. (Credit: NASA)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Astronaut Christina Koch recently gave a warm welcome to a very cool arrival to the International Space Station: a new piece of hardware for the Cold Atom Lab, an experimental physics facility that chills atoms to almost absolute zero, or minus 459 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 273 degrees Celsius). That’s colder than any known place in the universe.

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Space Station Experiment Reaches Ultracold Milestone

The Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) consists of two standardized containers that will be installed on the International Space Station. The larger container is called a “quad locker,” and the smaller container is called a “single locker.” The quad locker contains CAL’s physics package, or the compartment where CAL will produce clouds of ultra-cold atoms. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Tyler Winn)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The International Space Station is officially home to the coolest experiment in space.

NASA’s Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) was installed in the station’s U.S. science lab in late May and is now producing clouds of ultracold atoms known as Bose-Einstein condensates. These “BECs” reach temperatures just above absolute zero, the point at which atoms should theoretically stop moving entirely. This is the first time BECs have ever been produced in orbit.

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