Observations of the motion of planets around the Sun were crucial to the adoption of general relativity. Einstein showed, for instance, that the theory explains small shifts in the trajectory of Mercury that Newtonian physics cannot predict. Now, a team of researchers from South Africa, the U.S., France and Belgium has used the largest set of planetary measurements to date to test possible violations of general relativity. Analyzing data from spacecraft and earthbound observatories tracing the trajectories of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune, as well as the Moon and many asteroids, the authors found no breakdown of general relativity and placed some of the most stringent constraints to date on possible deviations from the theory.

“Testing Lorentz Symmetry with Planetary Orbital Dynamics,”Aurelien Hees et al., 2015, Physical Review D [http://journals.aps.org/prd/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevD.92.064049].

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