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Name of Image: Gravity Probe B Detector Mount Assembly
MIX #: 0400532
NIX #: 0400532 MSFC-0400532
Date of Image: 2004-01-01
Category: Space Science

Full Description: In this photo, the Gravity Probe B (GP-B) detector mount assembly is shown in comparison to the size of a dime. The assembly is used to detect exactly how much starlight is coming through different beams from the beam splitter in the telescope. The measurements from the tiny chips inside are what keeps GP-B aimed at the guide star. The GP-B is the relativity experiment developed at Stanford University to test two extraordinary predictions of Albert Einsteinís general theory of relativity. The experiment will measure, very precisely, the expected tiny changes in the direction of the spin axes of four gyroscopes contained in an Earth-orbiting satellite at a 400-mile altitude. So free are the gyroscopes from disturbance that they will provide an almost perfect space-time reference system. They will measure how space and time are very slightly warped by the presence of the Earth, and, more profoundly, how the Earthís rotation very slightly drags space-time around with it. These effects, though small for the Earth, have far-reaching implications for the nature of matter and the structure of the Universe. GP-B is among the most thoroughly researched programs ever undertaken by NASA. This is the story of a scientific quest in which physicists and engineers have collaborated closely over many years. Inspired by their quest, they have invented a whole range of technologies that are already enlivening other branches of science and engineering. Launched April 20, 2004 , the GP-B program was managed for NASA by the Marshall Space Flight Center. Development of the GP-B is the responsibility of Stanford University along with major subcontractor Lockheed Martin Corporation. (Image credit to Paul Ehrensberger, Stanford University.)
(MRPO) MRD/SPD Discipline(s): n/a
(MRPO) Subject Type: n/a
Keywords: Gravity Probe B, GP-B, Albert Einstein, General Theory of Relativity, Detector Mount Assembly
MSFC Negative Number: 0400532
Reference Number: MSFC-75-SA-4105-2C
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Large JPG 1140 900 300
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