Einstein’s theory of relativity has successfully passed another “test” in space

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This theory, published by Einstein in 1915, describes how gravity “works” and how it relates to time and space.

Scientists have once again confirmed that Einstein’s general theory of relativity is correct. The new confirmation came from the French MICROSCOPE mission which checked with remarkable accuracy the so-called weak equivalence principle, doing the relevant test with objects in free fall on a satellite.

The researchers, led by Gilles Metris of the Côte d’Azur Observatory, who made the relevant publications in the physics journal “Physical Review Letters” and in a special issue of the journal “Classical and Quantum Gravity”, announced the final results of the MICROSCOPE program launched in 2016.

The experiment measuring the acceleration of pairs of different objects (made of platinum and titanium alloys) in free fall, carried out while the satellite was in orbit around the Earth, was the most accurate test to date of one aspect of Einstein’s theory of gravity – and once again no crack was found in general relativity. It was found that the accelerations did not differ by more than 0.000000000000001, which rules out any violation of the weak equivalence principle or deviations from general relativity at this level.

This theory, published by Einstein in 1915, describes how gravity “works” and how it relates to time and space. Testing the weak equivalence principle is one way to simultaneously test general relativity. According to this principle, objects in a gravitational field fall in the same way when no other forces act on them, even if they have very different masses (eg a feather and a stone).

A famous test of the weak equivalence principle was done during the Apollo 15 mission, when American astronaut David Scott dropped a feather and a hammer simultaneously. Due to the lack of air resistance, the two objects accelerated equally toward the surface of the Moon.

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