March 14 – Scientists are preparing to measure the inertial rotation of Earth using an underground laser-based gyroscope. The goal is to reveal fluctuations in Earth’s rate of rotation and confirm a component of the theory of relativity known as the Lense-Thirring effect.
“This effect is detectable as a small difference between Earth’s rotation rate value measured by a ground based observatory and the value measured in an inertial reference frame,” Jacopo Belfi, researcher at the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics, said in a news release.
In order for scientists to directly observe the Lense-Thirring effect, they must measure Earth’s rotation rate vector with extreme precisions – with a “Relative accuracy better than one part per billion,” Belfi said.
Eventually, the program will boast several ring laser gyroscopes buried beneath Earth’s surface.
The gyroscopes, or RLGs, will be able to measure the rotation of Earth’s surface with unprecedented precision – and without interference from surface-level disturbances like those from hydrology, temperature or barometric pressure changes.
Initially, GINERino and its companions will be focused on measuring Earth’s rotational forces within an astronomical and relativistic context.