First results of the LARES 2 space experiment to test the general theory of relativity





Citation of Original Publication

Ciufolini, Ignazio, Claudio Paris, Erricos C. Pavlis, John Ries, Richard Matzner, Antonio Paolozzi, Emiliano Ortore, et al. “First Results of the LARES 2 Space Experiment to Test the General Theory of Relativity.” The European Physical Journal Plus 138, no. 11 (November 29, 2023): 1054.


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The LAGEOS 3 (today LARES 2) space experiment was proposed in the eighties by the Physics Department and by the Center of Space Research (CSR) of the University of Texas (UT) at Austin and by the Italian Space Agency (ASI) to test and accurately measure frame-dragging, with the strong support of John Archibald Wheeler, director of the Center for Theoretical Physics of UT Austin. Frame-dragging is an intriguing phenomenon predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity which has fundamental implications in high-energy astrophysics and in the generation of gravitational waves by spinning black holes. LAGEOS 3 was reproposed in 2016 to the Italian Space Agency and to the European Space Agency as a technologically much improved version of LAGEOS 3 under the name LARES 2 (LAres RElativity Satellite 2) and then successfully launched in 2022 with the new launch vehicle VEGA C of ASI, ESA and AVIO. Today, after almost 40 years since the original proposal, we report the first results of the LARES 2 space experiment to test general relativity. The results are in complete agreement with the predictions of Einstein’s gravitational theory. Whereas previous results already confirmed the frame-dragging prediction, the conceptual relative simplicity of the LARES 2 experiment with respect to the previous tests with the LARES and LAGEOS satellites provides a significant advance in the field of tests of general relativity.