26.06.2018 – Open position for master student

Thermal shielding of macroscopic quantum experiments in space

Testing the relationship between quantum and classical physics and, in particular, quantum decoherence in space was identified by the European Space Agency (ESA) as an area of interest for future space missions in the course of ESA’s call for New Science Ideas. ESA is currently performing a detailed engineering study at its Concurrent Design Facility (CDF) to investigate the possible design and the required core technologies and challenges for potentially realizing a “quantum physics platform” (QPPF) in space. Thermal shielding of macroscopic quantum experiments in space

Testing the relationship between quantum and classical physics and, in particular, quantum decoherence in space was identified by the European Space Agency (ESA) as an area of interest for future space missions in the course of ESA’s call for New Science Ideas. ESA is currently performing a detailed engineering study at its Concurrent Design Facility (CDF) to investigate the possible design and the required core technologies and challenges for potentially realizing a “quantum physics platform” (QPPF) in space.

The QPPF study has identified the requirement to achieve sufficiently low temperatures and extreme vacuum levels as the key design drivers. The lead scientist of this study, Rainer Kaltenbaek, has been granted funds by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) to perform detailed thermal analyses of approaches to passively and/or actively cool the payload of such a science mission.

Within this research project, we are looking for a master student to perform thermal analysis using the finite-element simulation software COMSOL. The study will at first concentrate on implementing a geometrical model of the payload and to use this as the basis for consolidating the payload design for passive radiative cooling by using a series of thermal shields. As a next step, the model shall be extended to include active cooling. In addition, we shall attempt to estimate the vacuum levels achievable by direct outgassing to space and discuss the potential for future ground-based tests of the proposed design.

We are looking for a highly motivated student with an affinity to computer simulations and an interest in tackling engineering challenges. Harnessing quantum technology in space is a rapidly developing field with an actively developing international community. The student will have the opportunity to interact with leading scientists locally as well as internationally.

The position is to be filled as soon as possible. Applications by female students are actively encouraged. Given comparable qualifications, female candidates will be given preference.

Interested parties please send an email with your application to .

13.04.2018, Meetings related to the CDF study

Yesterday, the second of two meetings aimed to involve the scientific community and to prepare for the upcoming CDF study was successfully concluded. In particular, there was a meeting in Bratislava on March 20-22, which focused on the theoretical aspects of performing tests of quantum physics, and there was a follow-up meeting on April 10-11 on the experimental challenges we face in such endeavors as well as the state-of-the-art experimental efforts on ground.

15.01.2018, Preparing for a CDF study of MAQRO

Following the meeting at Trento in June 2017, R. Kaltenbaek met at the end of June 2017 with ESA at ESTEC in the Netherlands to discuss the further proceeding. It was agreed that there would be an ESA study of MAQRO at the Concurrent Design Facility (CDF) of ESA within the first half of 2018. To this end, we assembled a core team to work on MAQRO. For now, the team was agreed to have the following structure:

Principal Investigator: Rainer Kaltenbaek
Project Manager: Angelo Bassi

  • WG1 (Theory, led by Mauro Paternostro)
  • WG2 (Experiment, led by Hendrik Ulbricht)
  • WG3 (Technology, led by James Bateman)
  • WG4 (Space, led by Ulrich Johann)

14.09.2016 – Proposal submitted to ESA’s New Science Ideas

We submitted MAQRO as a proposal to ESA’s call for New Science Ideas. If we are successful, this will allow us to discuss MAQRO with ESA in order to better identify critical issues and a technology roadmap towards a potential future implementation of MAQRO. We decided to submit a proposal in this form rather than submitting a proposal for the "M5" call in order to better prepare for an anticipated future "M6" call, which will provide us with a more realistic time-frame for necessary technology development.

25.08.2016 – Article on Radiative-cooling approach published

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The article "Thermal performance of a radiatively cooled system for quantum optomechanical experiments in space" by A. Pilan Zanoni, J. Burkhardt, U. Johann, M. Aspelmeyer, R. Kaltenbaek, and G. Hechenblaikner just got published (Applied Thermal Engineering 107, 689 (2016), doi: 10.1016/j.applthermaleng.2016.06.116). The image above is the corresponding graphical abstract.

03.12.2015 – LISA Pathfinder successfully launched

LISA Pathfinder was successfully launched yesterday! Apart from that simply being great news as being an important step towards LISA and towards a better understanding of the gravitational universe, for MAQRO this is especially important because it solidifies the important technological heritage of MAQRO from LISA Pathfinder. For example, we also plan to use a VEGA launcher, and we intend to use a similar propulsion module to transport MAQRO to L1 after the start. This transfer is no mean feat in terms of mission operations, and it will form a sound foundation for MAQRO. Of course, it will be as important to see the science module in full action in a few weeks. It will further demonstrate the micro-thrusters also used in the GAIA and Microscope missions, and it will demonstrate the full operational capability of the spacecraft itself and the LISA technology package (lasers, optical modulators, DFACS, …), which also forms the baseline for the MAQRO spacecraft and instrument. In this sense, this mission is not only a pathfinder for LISA but also for MAQRO.

We congratulate all the people, who spent the last years and decades working towards this day and wish them the best for the future with LISA pathfinder and later LISA! Thank you for developing this incredible piece of technology!

11.08.2015 – M5 call to be issued soon

On July 20th, 2015, ESA announced plans for issuing an M5 call in the near future. Of course, we plan to submit our MAQRO proposal once again. As described in the announcement, we should state our interest by September 20th, 2015. This is not necessary but it will show ESA what they can expect in terms of proposals submitted. The tentative schedule is: call announced in December 2015, deadline for submission: April 2016.