Feeds

Chocks away for NASA's Einstein test

Gravity Probe-B launch successful

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Intelligent flash storage arrays

NASA's Gravity Probe-B (GP-B) is being guided into a nearly perfect circular polar orbit 400 miles up, following its successful launch yesterday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Early reports from the Earth's newest satellite are good, according to Rex Geveden, the GP-B program manager: "The solar arrays are deployed, and we have received initial data that indicates all systems are operating smoothly. We are very pleased," he said.

The GP-B carries four of the most precise gyroscopes ever made, designed to test two predictions of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity: that space and time are warped by massive objects.

By watching how the near-perfect spheres spin, the US Space Agency hopes to see how the Earth warps space, and also whether the spin of the earth creates a drag in space-time. The spacecraft will be aimed constantly at a distant star. The spin axes of the on-board gyroscopes should drift minutely if the dragging effect occurs.

Following 60 days of calibration, the mission scientists will gather data on the precise spin-axis orientation of the gyroscopes. The probe will send data back at least twice a day for a year. When the mission finishes in 2005, NASA expects the analysis of the huge pile of data to take at least another 12 months.

"The Gravity Probe B space vehicle houses one of the most challenging science instruments ever devised and seeks to answer some of the most important questions about the structure of our universe," Geveden said.

Lead scientist on the mission, Stanford University's Dr. Francis Everitt, said: "This is...the outcome of a unique collaboration of physicists and engineers to develop this near-perfect instrument to test Einstein's theory of gravity". He described the successful launch as a great moment, and a great reponsibility. ®

Related link

NASA's statement

Related stories

Einstein probe launch delayed
Perfect balls and rubber sheets

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
'Utter killjoy Reg hacks have NEVER BEEN LAID', writes a fan
'Shuddit, smarty pants!' Some readers reacted badly to our last Doctor Who review ...
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
White LED lies: It's great, but Nobel physics prize-winning great?
How artificial lighting could offer an artificial promise
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.