January 17, 2013
VANDENBERG AFB, CALIF. -In the spacecraft processing facility on North Vandenberg Air Force Base, workers prepare to remove the soft shipping cover from the Gravity Probe B experiment. Immediate processing includes setting up mechanical and electrical ground support equipment, making necessary connections and conditioning the spacecraft battery. The Gravity Probe B will launch a payload of four gyroscopes into low-Earth polar orbit to test two extraordinary predictions of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity: the geodetic effect (how space and time are warped by the presence of the Earth) and frame dragging (how Earth’s rotation drags space and time around with it). Once in orbit, for 18 months each gyroscope’s spin axis will be monitored as it travels through local spacetime, observing and measuring these effects. The experiment was developed by Stanford University, Lockheed Martin and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
Topics: Gravity Probe B, Tests of general relativity, Physics, Environment, Gravity Probe B mission timeline, Geodetic effect, Frame-dragging, Gravitation, General relativity, Spaceflight, Marshall Space Flight Center