We present in detail the scientific objectives in fundamental physics of the Space–Time Explorer and QUantum Equivalence Space Test (STE–QUEST) space mission. STE–QUEST was pre-selected by the European Space Agency together with four other missions for the cosmic vision M3 launch opportunity planned around 2024. It carries out tests of different aspects of the Einstein Equivalence Principle using atomic clocks, matter wave interferometry and long distance time/frequency links, providing fascinating science at the interface between quantum mechanics and gravitation that cannot be achieved, at that level of precision, in ground experiments. We especially emphasize the specific strong interest of performing Equivalence Principle tests in the quantum regime, i.e. using quantum atomic wave interferometry. Although STE–QUEST was finally not selected in early 2014 because of budgetary and technological reasons, its science case was very highly rated. Our aim is to expose that science to a large audience in order to allow future projects and proposals to take advantage of the STE–QUEST experience.
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Published in Advances in Space Research, Volume 55, Issue 1, 2015, pages 501-524.
© 2014 COSPAR. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Altschul, B., Bailey, Q. G., Blanchet, L., Bongs, K., Bouyer, P., Cacciapuoti, L., Capozziello, S., Gaaloul, N., Giulini, D., Hartwig, J., Iess, L., Jetzer, P., Landragin, A., Rasel, E., Reynaud, S., Schiller, S., Schubert, C., Sorrentino, F., Sterr, U., … Wolf, P. (2015). Quantum tests of the einstein equivalence principle with the ste–quest space mission. Advances in Space Research, 55(1), 501–524. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.asr.2014.07.014