Washington, DC, United States

STEP will carry concentric test masses to Earth orbit to test a fundamental assumption underlying Einstein's theory of general relativity: that gravitational mass is equivalent to inertial mass. STEP is a 21st-century version of the test that Galileo is said to have performed by dropping a carnon ball and a musket ball simultaneously from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa to compare their accelerations. During the STEP experiment, four pairs of test masses will be falling around the Earth, and their accelerations will be measured by superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUIDS). The extended time sensitivity of the instruments will allow the measurements to be a million times more accurate than those made in modern ground-based tests.


  • Title: Microgravity
  • Date Created: 2004-04-15
  • Rights: MSFC
  • Album: rlobrie1

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