CARIOQA-PMP (Cold Atom Rubidium Interferometer in Orbit for Quantum Accelerometry – Pathfinder Mission Preparation) aims at developing a new technology to be used in space within the next decade: quantum accelerometer. Such technology will be used for satellite-based Earth science in order to monitor climate change and thus support the development of mitigation and adaption measures.

The technology developed within the CARIOQA-PMP framework aims to be tested during a spatial mission: the Quantum Pathfinder Mission. In addition to the development of an engineering model for the space mission instrument and the development, improvement and testing of critical technologies, CARIOQA-PMP will also establish a technical and programmatic roadmap for quantum space gravity missions. This roadmap will be shared and validated by European stakeholders. It will ensure that the impact of the project’s results is maximised through its harmonisation with the European programmatic framework.

CARIOQA-PMP brings together leading players from five EU countries. These include experts in satellite instrument development (Airbus Defence and Space, Exail, TELETEL, LEONARDO), quantum sensing (LUH, SYRTE, LP2N, LCAR, ONERA, IESL/FORTH), space geodesy, Earth sciences and users of gravity field data (LUH, TUM, POLIMI, DTU), as well as impact maximization and impact assessment experts (PRAXI Network/FORTH, G.A.C. Group). The pathfinder mission preparation is coordinated by the French and German space agencies CNES and DLR under CNES lead. Meet the partners.


Three main objectives have been set for the scope and duration of CARIOQA-PMP:

To develop an Engineering Model (EM) of the mission’s instrument and to increase the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of the critical subsystems up to 5. An EM is a light representative model in terms of form, fit and function used for the design qualification test program, it is not intended to flight. Complementary EU industrial partners develop the subsystems of the instrument (i.e. Physics Package, Laser System, Microwave Source and Ground Support Equipment) and increase its TRL by assessing the critical technologies in relevant environments. Excellent institutes bring their quantum expertise for the definition of the EM and the mastering of its performance.

To guarantee the adequacy of the hardware development with the future scientific needs. Through their knowledge of scientific applications, leading institutes in geodesy analyse and simulate potential mission scenarios for the Quantum Pathfinder Mission and future Post-Pathfinder scientific missions.

To establish a technical and programmatic roadmap for Quantum Space Gravimetry Missions. This roadmap will be shared and validated by European stakeholders. It ensures the impact maximisation of the project’s results through its harmonisation with the European programmatic framework. CARIOQA PMP brings together the main players of quantum sensors in Europe. As a result, CARIOQA-PMP will secure the capacities for implementing quantum gravimeters/accelerometers in space within European Union (EU) contributing to the EU’s strategic goal of non-dependence and autonomy.


an overall strategic approach

To secure the leadership of the European Union on quantum technology in space, the ambition of CARIOQA-PMP is, first and foremost, to prepare a Quantum Pathfinder Mission for space gravimetry to be launched before the end of the decade. The overarching goal of this Quantum Pathfinder Mission will focus on the operation of a complete quantum gravimeter/accelerometer and the characterisation of its performance and limitations in space. Thus, this mission will verify the maturity and performance of key technologies (e.g. BEC creation, rotation compensation) necessary to develop ultra-sensitive sensors operable on a satellite. As a result, validating the technology on the Quantum Pathfinder Mission will enable Europe to build ultra-sensitive sensors for ambitious Post-Pathfinder Missions in a second step. CARIOQA-PMP will go beyond the state-of-the-art by pursuing two objectives to prepare this Quantum Pathfinder Mission. The first objective is to understand and anticipate the potential of quantum sensors in space with respect to scientific end-user needs. On this basis, advanced mission scenarios for quantum space geodesy will be developed and analysed, and will define the framework of the Quantum Pathfinder Mission. The second objective is to significantly increase the TRL of quantum technology by developing and assessing an Engineering Model (EM) of a space-borne quantum gravimeter/accelerometer, which fulfils the requirement of a Quantum Pathfinder Mission. This technology transfer from academia to industry will pave the way for building the mission’s Flight Model (FM) within a purely European industrial framework. Moreover, supporting industrial developments with a strong scientific activity will guarantee the adequacy of the hardware development with the future scientific needs and drive the associated choices for further technological maturation. CARIOQA-PMP brings together the leading players of quantum sensors in Europe. The project is coordinated by European space agencies (CNES, DLR) linked by a cooperation agreement on the development of quantum sensors. This leadership structure will enable an efficient coordination of the project’s scientific and industrial dimensions and ensures its harmonisation with a European programmatic framework.

 Learn more: https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/2211/2211.01215.pdf