Boegel, Patrick — Atom interferometry aboard the International Space Station

Atom interferometers based on Bose-Einstein condensates are expected to be exquisite systems for quantum sensing applications like Earth observation, relativistic geodesy, and tests of fundamental physical concepts. Since the sensitivity of most atomic sensors scales quadratically with the interrogation time, it is beneficial to extend the free fall time by working in a microgravity environment. We report here on a series of experiments performed with NASA’s Cold Atom Lab aboard the International Space Station demonstrating first atom interferometers in orbit. By employing Mach-Zehnder-type geometries we have realized atomic magnetogradiometers and successfully compared their outcome to complementary non-interferometric measurements. Current experimental limitations as well as future perspectives will be discussed. These results pave the way towards future precision measurements with atom interferometers in space.