Space

Galileo, Newton and Einstein put to the test of the space technology of the XXI century

ONERA has designed and developed ultra-sensitive accelerometers that will constitute the payload of the space mission MICROSCOPE. Its objective: to test in space the principle of equivalence of mass with a precision that will be a hundred times greater than before. The slightest deviation would be an indication that there is a new theory beyond general relativity.

As part of the Myriade microsatellite program of the CNES, ONERA designed and built the T-SAGE instrument, the true core of the MICROSCOPE (MICROSatellite à traînée Compensée pour l'Observation du Principe d’Équivalence) satellite.
T-SAGE (Twin Space Accelerometer for Space Gravity Experiments) is a double differential accelerometer designed and developed by ONERA. It will allow Einstein’s general relativity theory to be tested: thanks to its sensitivity, which is unique in the world, it will test the equivalence principle (EP) or universality of free fall at 10-15, that is, 100 times better than all experiments performed on earth.
If a control acceleration difference is detected between the two masses, this will reveal a violation of the EP, offering new possibilities for gravitation theories.

MICROSCOPE is being developed by an international consortium steered by the CNES together with ONERA, the Côte d’Azur observatory, the German microgravity application center (ZARM), the DLR, the National Metrology Agency of the Federal Republic of Germany (PTB) and thee ESA.

MICROSCOPE will be launched by a Soyouz launcher in 2016 from Kourou.