Advances in fundamental physics, such as gravitation or quantum theory, can have important technological implications for ESA. Space provides a unique environment in which to test new theories in physics - it is also an environment that can benefit from novel applications of both old and new physical concepts. We perform theoretical research and monitor new developments mainly in the fields of gravitation, quantum physics and high-energy physics.
Optical 'Tractor Beam' for Space Applications01 Mar 2019 An optical pulling force is able to act on small particles resulting in their transport back towards the source of light. The aim of this project is to investigate optical pulling forces in the context of space applications.
Computation in out-of-equilibrium quantum systems01 Apr 2018 The idea of using quantum mechanics to perform some computation much faster than with known classical algorithms originates from the eighties. The most straightforward method for that would be to build a general-purpose programmable quantum computer, which will be a challenging task of the 21st century.
Symmetries, decoherence and the quantum to classical transition01 Jan 2018 Decoherence is our best physical mechanism to understand the quantum to classical transition. The goal of this project is to have a better understanding of the relationship between symmetries and which pointer states will emerge after a decoherence process.
Super-resolution for astronomical applications01 Jun 2017 Every telescope system has a limited resolution - if two or more celestial objects lie too close to each other in the sky, they will form a single dot in the image, making them impossible to distinguish from one another. The aim of this project is to look for novel aproaches to improve the resolution of telescopes beyond their classical limit.
Black Hole Shadows01 Oct 2015
Black Hole Shadows01 Oct 2015 Evidence supporting the existence of black holes has come in the form of spectroscopic and proper motion studies of galactic nuclei [1, 2, 3]. These studies indicate that there are dark objects at the center of galaxies with parameters, mass and angular momentum, that make it difficult to imagine viable alternatives to a black hole. Nevertheless...
Spaceborne Laser Filamentation01 May 2014
Spaceborne Laser Filamentation01 May 2014 This project studied femtosecond laser filamentation from orbital altitudes. In particular, a theoretical and numerical model of the downward vertical propagation of intense femtosecond laser pulses launched from an orbital altitudeof 400km was developed. The project's goal was to gain insights on the impact of initial parameters on the filament...
Debunking or Non-Issues03 May 2013
Debunking or Non-Issues03 May 2013 A collection of ideas classified as "non-issues" by the ACT. In short, science debunking and fact checking.
Time transformations, anisotropy and analogue transformation elasticity01 Apr 2013 The transformational paradigm for metamaterials was recently generalized by the introduction of an “analogue transformation” method. In this project, we will extend this method to include anisotropy and general spacetime transformations in acoustics, as well as towards the construction of an “analogue transformation elasticity”, with possible ap...
Analogue Transformational Acoustics01 Nov 2011
Analogue Transformational Acoustics01 Nov 2011 In this project, we proposed a new formulation of the transformational approach to acoustic meta-materials based on the idea of analogue gravity. The aim was to obtain a more natural extension of the powerful transformational techniques devised for optics.
Relativistic Global Navigation Satellite System01 Jan 2010 For successful use, GNSS must take into consideration relativistic effects - that is they must take into consideration the warping of space and time as described by Einstein's field equations. This is currently achieved by keepingthe Newtonian concept of absolute space and time, and adding a number of relativistic corrections to the desired accu...
Vibrating systems in general relativity01 Jan 2009
Vibrating systems in general relativity01 Jan 2009 Vibrating systems can have an interesting behavior in general relativity. In this project, simple systems with time dependent constraints are considered. We study the deviation of these vibrating systems from a free fall trajectory.
Enhanced Situation Awareness01 Mar 2008
Enhanced Situation Awareness01 Mar 2008 How can we infer the health status of a spacecraft and the variation of its physical properties from the readings of few, strategically placed, sensors? The Advanced Concepts Team is assessing a novel approach to infer the health status of the spacecraft and its instrumentations from the readings of few, strategically placed thermal sensors.
Coordinate Transforming Metamaterials01 Jun 2007
Coordinate Transforming Metamaterials01 Jun 2007 In this project we propose a new formulation of the transformational approach to acoustic meta-materials based on the idea of analogue gravity. The aim is to obtain a more natural extension to acoustic of the powerful transformational techniques devised for optics.
Non-Linear Effects in Weak Gravitation01 Sep 2006
Non-Linear Effects in Weak Gravitation01 Sep 2006 The nature of dark energy and dark matter is unknown, though there exist several candidates for both of them. Although no major influence of the dynamics at cosmological scales on the local dynamics have to be expected, our understanding of gravitational dynamics on a larger scale should be assessed with respect to possible relevance for the loc...
Optimal Light Distribution in Solar Cells01 Jun 2006
Optimal Light Distribution in Solar Cells01 Jun 2006 Losses in solar cells can be reduced by a covering glass with specific optical properties that leads the light into regions of high efficiency. In this short study, the potential of this method is assessed.
Deployment and Stabilization of Large Structures in Space01 Feb 2006 In this project we investigated possibilities to use electromagnetic interactions to deploy and control large structures in space.
Influence of Cosmic Expansion on Solar System Dynamics01 Jan 2006 Recent experiments confirmed that the cosmos undergoes an accelerated expansion. Could this expansion have a measurable influence on the dynamics within the solar system?
Pioneer Anomaly01 Jul 2005
Pioneer Anomaly01 Jul 2005 Different dedicated and non-dedicated missions to test the anomalous acceleration of the Pioneer spacecraft have been investigated.
Pulsar Navigation: a novel concept of spacecraft navigation?01 Apr 2004 Millisecond pulsars offer the most reliable timing standard known to us. Hence it appears logical to investigate if navigation in deep space can benefit from using this timing information. The possibility of using pulsar signals for the positioning of spacecraft is reviewed.