Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Errant Galileo satellites will be used for research on Einstein’s general theory of relativity


When in August 2014 Professor Claus Laemmerzahl, Executive Director of Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM) at the University of Bremen, learned that Galileo satellites 5 and 6 had not reached their designated orbits, he immediately had a vision of using them for his research on the general theory of relativity. Now the German Aerospace Center (DLR) has agreed funding for his “scientific recycling” project and granted him and his ZARM team access to the data collected by the Galileo satellites.

“Milena“ and ”Doresa“ were designed to orbit the Earth at a constant height of 23,000 kilometers to deliver precise navigation data for Galileo, the European alternative to the GPS system. However, a frozen fuel line on the launch vehicle caused the satellites to be marooned in an elliptical orbit.

Orbits of the Galileo satellites


Consequently, their height above the Earth varies continuously between 17,500 and 25,000 kilometers. These fluctuations in height leave them unable to perform their intended task but ideal for the investigation of gravitational red shift, which is one of the central predictions of the general theory of relativity established by Albert Einstein 100 years ago.

This prediction states that gravity – in this case the gravitational force of the Earth – influences time. For example, a clock placed at the top of a tower will run faster than a clock placed at the bottom due to the lower gravitational force it experiences.

The experiment providing the most precise data so far for the proof of the gravitational red shift took place in 1978. Two identical clocks were placed at a distance of 10,000 kilometers – one on Earth and one on a rocket.

In contrast to this one‐off experiment the Galileo satellites change their height by almost 8,000 kilometers twice a day, providing an enormous amount of data. Compared to the experiment in 1978, Laemmerzahl is expecting to show the effect of red shift with 10 times the precision and without the high costs associated with the design of a new research mission.

Contact person for scientific questions:
Prof. Dr. Claus Laemmerzahl
0421 218-57834

Contact person for general press inquiries:
Birgit Kinkeldey
+49 421 218-57755

Photo material concerning the topic can be found under the following link:

Weitere Informationen:

Birgit Kinkeldey | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Wandering greenhouse gas
16.03.2018 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

nachricht Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System
14.03.2018 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

A new kind of quantum bits in two dimensions

19.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists have a new way to gauge the growth of nanowires

19.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>