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Gravity Probe B

  1. May 19, 2004 #1


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    At the end of last week, the Gravity Probe B team practiced Low Temperature Bakeout (LTB), in which discs of sintered titanium (very tiny titanium balls, smaller than cake sprinkles) are "warmed up" a few Kelvin, thereby attracting helium molecules to them. This process will remove any remaining helium from the gyro housings after full gyro spin-up. Last week's practice LTB procedure had the added benefit of imparting a very small amount of spin-up helium gas to the gyros. Following the practice LTB, the SQUID gyro read-out data revealed that gyro #1, gyro #3, and gyro #4 were slowly spinning at 0.001, 0.002, and 0.010 Hz, respectively (1 Hz = 60 rpm). Amazingly, the Gyro Suspension Systems (GSS) were able to measure gas spin-up forces at the level of approximately 10 nano-newton (10-8 N). This means that the GP-B science team is able to interpret data from gyro spin rates four to five orders of magnitude smaller than what was planned for the GP-B science experiment.
  2. jcsd
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