MUMBAI: The main brain behind Nasa’s latest physics experiment to create the coldest spot in the universe — Anita Sengupta, an Indian-American — has a strong connect with India as her father is from West Bengal. The spot created by Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) is expected to be 10 billion times colder than the vacuum of space.
CAL, flown to the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday by an Antares rocket from Nasa’s Wallops facility at Virginia, United States, could potentially lead to a number of technologies, including sensors, quantum computers and atomic clocks used in spacecraft navigation, said Nasa. “CAL will make it possible to observe these ultra-cold atoms much longer in the microgravity environment,” the space agency stated.
Sengupta, who said she proposed the mission, had played a key role in the successful landing of Nasa’s Curiosity rover on Mars on August 6, 2012.
on Monday, Sengupta said that CAL will investigate the properties of “Bose Einstein Condensate, a state of matter that only occurs just above absolute zero”.
She said the experiment, which took over five years to develop, will help one give new insight into the nature of the atom and early expansion of the universe. “We have designed it to be modular, repairable and upgradable by astronauts on board the ISS and it can last for several years,’’
According to Sengupta, these technology demonstrations are needed for future space-based quantum sensors which could enable more precise measurements of gravity, magnetic fields and in-space navigation.
She is currently the V-P of Hyperloop One and had visited Mumbai in 2013.