Solid, liquid, gas, plasma… did you know there’s also a fifth state of matter? Since 2018, NASA's Cold Atom Lab has been using the microgravity environment on the International Space Station to help chill atoms to almost absolute zero – the coldest temperature matter can reach. At these low temperatures, Cold Atom Lab produces the fifth state of matter, called a Bose-Einstein condensate.
Experiments with this fifth state of matter could lend deeper insight into how our world works on a fundamental level. For example, scientists will be able to measure the very faint tug of gravity that is still present aboard the station, and put Albert Einstein’s theory about this fundamental force to the test. Studies of Bose-Einstein condensates aboard the station could also lead to new technologies, like better tools for navigation and more precise clocks.