Inside NASA's Cold Atom Lab


Astronauts are studying some very chilly atoms.

One of NASA's chief goals is unlocking scientific mysteries of the universe. One such mystery involves around Bose-Einstein condensate, a unique quantum state of matter. It can only be achieved at the coldest temperatures and NASA has built an instrument to facilitate that.

"The Cold Atom Laboratory is intended to provide one of the most sensitive instruments mankind's ever built," said Robert Shotwell, Cold Atom Laboratory project manager.

These atoms are viewable with a camera, allowing scientists can watch them and gain insights, but because of the chilly temperature requirements and the sensitive material being studied, the best place for the experiment is in microgravity. Specifically, the International Space Station.

NASA researchers are aiming for a temperature of about a fraction of a degree above absolute zero.

"We will make the coldest spot in the universe," Shotwell said. 

The laboratory successfully launched to the ISS on May 21. What mysteries the lab will unlock about quantum physics and the known universe remains to be seen.

To learn more, check out the video below from NASA: