, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 611-649

Matter wave explorer of gravity (MWXG)

Abstract

In response to ESA’s Call for proposals of 5 March 2007 of the COSMIC VISION 2015–2025 plan of the ESA science programme, we propose a M-class satellite mission to test of the Equivalence Principle in the quantum domain by investigating the extended free fall of matter waves instead of macroscopic bodies as in the case of GAUGE, MICROSCOPE or STEP. The satellite, called Matter Wave Explorer of Gravity, will carry an experiment to test gravity, namely the measurement of the equal rate of free fall with various isotopes of distinct atomic species with precision cold atom interferometry in the vicinity of the earth. This will allow for a first quantum test the Equivalence Principle with spin polarised particles and with pure fermionic and bosonic atomic ensembles. Due to the space conditions, the free fall of Rubidium and Potassium isotopes will be compared with a maximum accelerational sensitivity of 5·10 − 16 m/s2 corresponding to an accuracy of the test of the Equivalence Principle of 1 part in 1016. Besides the primary scientific goal, the quantum test of the Equivalence Principle, the mission can be extended to provide additional information about the gravitational field of the earth or for testing theories of fundamental processes of decoherence which are investigated by various theory groups in the context of quantum gravity phenomenology. In this proposal we present in detail the mission objectives and the technical aspects of the proposed mission.