Publication Title

Quantum Science and Technology

Document Type


Department or Program

Physics and Astronomy

Publication Date



atom interferometry, Bose-Einstein condensate, drop tower, free fall, fundamental physics, parabolic flight, sounding rocket


Microgravity platforms enable cold atom research beyond experiments in typical laboratories by removing restrictions due to the gravitational acceleration or compensation techniques. While research in space allows for undisturbed experimentation, technological readiness, availability and accessibility present challenges for experimental operation. In this work we focus on the main capabilities and unique features of ground-based microgravity facilities for cold atom research. A selection of current and future scientific opportunities and their high demands on the microgravity environment are presented, and some relevant ground-based facilities are discussed and compared. Specifically, we point out the applicable free fall times, repetition rates, stability and payload capabilities, as well as programmatic and operational aspects of these facilities. These are contrasted with the requirements of various cold atom experiments. Besides being an accelerator for technology development, ground-based microgravity facilities allow fundamental and applied research with the additional benefit of enabling hands-on access to the experiment for modifications and adjustments.

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Copyright © 2023 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd.

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