The local dark sector. Probing gravitation's low-acceleration frontier and dark matter in the Solar System neighborhood

Abstract : We speculate on the development and availability of new innovative propulsion techniques in the 2040s, that will allow us to fly a spacecraft outside the Solar System (at 150 AU and more) in a reasonable amount of time, in order to directly probe our (gravitational) Solar System neighborhood and answer pressing questions regarding the dark sector (dark energy and dark matter). We identify two closely related main science goals, as well as secondary objectives that could be fulfilled by a mission dedicated to probing the local dark sector: (i) begin the exploration of gravitation's low-acceleration regime with a man-made spacecraft and (ii) improve our knowledge of the local dark matter and baryon densities. Those questions can be answered by directly measuring the gravitational potential with an atomic clock on-board a spacecraft on an outbound Solar System orbit, and by comparing the spacecraft's trajectory with that predicted by General Relativity through the combination of ranging data and the in-situ measurement (and correction) of non-gravitational accelerations with an on-board accelerometer. Despite a wealth of new experiments getting online in the near future, that will bring new knowledge about the dark sector, it is very unlikely that those science questions will be closed in the next two decades. More importantly, it is likely that it will be even more urgent than currently to answer them. Tracking a spacecraft carrying a clock and an accelerometer as it leaves the Solar System may well be the easiest and fastest way to directly probe our dark environment.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02350276
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Submitted on : Wednesday, November 6, 2019 - 5:28:38 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, November 14, 2019 - 5:43:02 AM

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Joel Bergé, Laura Baudis, Philippe Brax, Sheng-Wey Chiow, Bruno Christophe, et al.. The local dark sector. Probing gravitation's low-acceleration frontier and dark matter in the Solar System neighborhood. 2019. ⟨hal-02350276⟩

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