Called LARES, this tiny — but remarkably heavy — satellite both looks and acts like a disco ball. By bouncing lasers off its reflectors, Italian researchers are hoping to prove Einstein’s conjecture that the Earth warps space-time as it rotates.
One important aspect of general relativity is an effect called rotational-frame dragging, or the Lense-Thirring effect. Einstein said that the rotation of a sufficiently massive object would distort space and time, thus dragging a nearby object out of position (a phenomenon known as precess) in a way that would overrule the much simpler math posited by classical Newtonian physics.
But capturing the effects of rotational-frame dragging has proven exceedingly difficult; the effect is incredibly minute — about one part in a few trillion. The only way to measure it is to look at something massive, like a black hole, or create a super sensitive device and put it into orbit.
More - Link >>> http://io9.com/this-disco-ball-is-the-densest-object-orbiting-the-so-511005516
Source: io9.com .
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