Search Marshall

Go

Text Size

 
 
Link to Marshall Newsroom home page

For release: 11-08-04
Release #: 04-273  

Testing Einstein's theory: Bremen native plays lead role in NASA Gravity Probe B mission

Photo description: Lyons

As a major NASA mission begins science operations, Bremen, Ga., native Tony Lyons can make a rare claim — that he helped test Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. Lyons, a 1973 graduate of Bremen High School, is helping to lead NASA's Gravity Probe B team. Also known as GP-B, the experiment will test Einstein's theory that space and time are slightly distorted by the presence of massive objects such as planets and stars.

Photo: Lyons (NASA/MSFC)



As a major NASA mission begins science operations, Bremen, Ga., native Tony Lyons can make a rare claim — that he helped test Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.

Lyons, a 1973 graduate of Bremen High School, is helping to lead NASA's Gravity Probe B team. Also known as GP-B, the experiment will test Einstein's theory that space and time are slightly distorted by the presence of massive objects such as planets and stars.

As the Gravity Probe B program manager at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., Lyons provides leadership to the team of engineers and scientists as they pursue one of the most unique experiments attempted in the history of space science.

Gravity Probe B launched April 20 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., aboard a Boeing Delta II launch vehicle. Orbiting 400 miles above Earth, the Gravity Probe B space vehicle circles the globe every 90 minutes, crossing over both poles.

The experiment will measure, very precisely, tiny changes in the direction of spin of four gyroscopes contained in the spacecraft satellite. So free are the gyroscopes from disturbance that they will provide an almost perfect space-time reference system.

These measurements will enable scientists to track two effects — how space and time are very slightly warped by the presence of the Earth, and how the Earth's rotation very slightly drags space-time around with it.

Einstein proposed the General Theory of Relativity in 1916, approximately 80 years before the advent of technology capable of testing this aspect of his theory.

Gravity Probe B's 12-month science-data acquisition period will be followed by a month post-science period for calibrations. By 2005 the Gravity Probe B mission will be complete, and a one-year period is planned for scientific analysis of the data.

Lyons earned a bachelor's degree in physics from State University of West Georgia, formerly West Georgia College, in Carrollton and a master's in engineering science from the University of Tennessee Space Institute in Tullahoma.

NASA's Gravity Probe B program is managed at the Marshall Space Flight Center. NASA's prime contractor for the mission, Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., conceived the experiment and is responsible for the design of the science instrument, as well as for mission operations and data analysis. A major subcontractor, Lockheed Martin of Sunnyvale, Calif., designed and built the spacecraft as well as portions of the science instrument.

More information about the Gravity Probe B mission is available at:

http://einstein.stanford.edu/

and

http://www.gravityprobeb.com

For more information:
New flagNews release
New flagPhotos


Contact
Steve Roy
Public Affairs Office
(256) 544-0034

Graphic for line

E-mail

Get releases sent directly to you!
Contact:
Betty Humphery

Graphic for line