A view of the clean room at Clyde Space's Glasgow facility. Credit: Clyde Space

LOGAN, Utah — Scotland’s Clyde Space Ltd. is joining forces with industrial conglomerate Teledyne e2v to develop a free-flying nanosatellite to demonstrate the unique quantum properties of cold atoms.

The Cold Atom Space Payload mission “will create a new wave of space applications,” Craig Clark, Clyde Space chief executive, said in a statement.

Laboratory experiments on the ground have shown that atoms cooled to a temperature of 0 degrees Kelvin, or -273.15 Celsius, can act as extremely sensitive sensors capable of mapping minuscule changes in the strength of Earth’s gravity. As a result, instruments using the cold atoms could help researchers monitor polar ice mass, ocean currents, sea levels and underground water resources in addition to identifying new underground deposits of natural resources. The technology also has applications for deep space navigation and precision timing.

Clyde Space and Teledyne e2v plan to develop the Cold Atom Space Payload mission over the next 18 months and launch it by the end of the decade. Partners for the project, which is funded by Innovate UK, an economic development agency, include Gooch & Housego PLC, XCAM Ltd., Covesion Ltd. and the University of Southampton.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...