MAIUS - Matter-Wave Interferometry in Microgravity

Within the MAIUS research program scientists carry out interference experiments with “decelerated” ultra-cold matter waves, so-called Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs). A Bose-Einstein condensate occurs when a cloud of atoms is cooled down to almost absolute zero. This ultra-cold atomic cloud shows interference phenomena similar to a laser and can in principle be used in an atomic-optical instrument for precision measurements.

MAIUS 1 was launched on January 23, 2017 with a VSB-30 research rocket from Esrange near Kiruna in northern Sweden. During the approximately six-minute microgravity phase, the German scientists succeeded for the first time in generating a Bose-Einstein condensate in space and conducting interferometry experiments with it. The landing of the payload also took place according to plan on a parachute system.

With the successful start of MAIUS 1, it was proven that the technology works failure-free under space conditions. With MAIUS 2 and 3, two further missions are to follow in 2022 and 2023.

The MAIUS 1 mission was carried out by a German research consortium.

Scientific lead: Leibniz Universität Hannover

Participating research institutions:
Humboldt-Universität Berlin
ZARM der Universität Bremen
Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Universität Hamburg
Universität Ulm
Technische Universität Darmstadt
Ferdinand-Braun-Institut gGmbH, Leibniz-Institut für Höchstfrequenztechnik
DLR Institut für Raumfahrtsysteme Bremen
DLR-Einrichtung für Simulations- und Softwaretechnik Braunschweig
DLR’s Mobile Rocket Base (MORABA)

Coordination und Funding:
DLR German Space Agency with financial resources of  the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi)