Laser Interferometer Space Antenna Reaches Crucial Milestone


Credit: Unsplash/CC0 public domain

LISA, the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, has reached an important milestone: it has successfully passed the full Mission Formulation Review (MFR) and is now entering the next phase of development. The review team, comprised of experts from ESA, NASA, the scientific community and industry, identified no obstacles and confirmed that LISA has successfully reached sufficient maturity to pass to the next stage of development.

The MFR confirms the feasibility of the LISA mission and identifies a clear path of technological developments needed to reach the next major milestone: mission adoption. The MFR is a checkpoint to ensure that LISA’s technology and planning are mature enough; it is a prerequisite for the further development of the mission. In an ESA mission life cycle, the MFR is the formal end of phase A (mission feasibility). LISA is now entering phase B1, centered on the preliminary definition of the mission.

“LISA is well underway. We are now entering phase B1, where we are carrying out more detailed design work to establish the full set of mission requirements and approach to verifications,” says Professor Karsten Danzmann. , head of the LISA consortium.

Martin Gehler, LISA study manager at the European Space Agency, adds: “The review has been a major success for all stakeholders and the result of vigorous work on [the] Consortium, NASA and ESA over the past few years.”

Thanks to the observation of gravitational waves, LISA will offer an unprecedented and unique view of the universe, quite different from any other space telescope and any ground-based gravitational wave detector. LISA will provide pioneering scientific results allowing information not available via electromagnetic observations. Combining observations from LISA with those from other ground and space facilities will also allow scientists to make huge advances in multi-messenger astronomy.

The LISA instrument will consist of three spacecraft in a triangular configuration with 2.5 million kilometer arms, moving in an Earth-like orbit around the sun. Gravitational waves from sources throughout the universe will produce slight oscillations in arm lengths (smaller than the diameter of an atom). LISA will pick up these movements and thus measure the gravitational waves using laser links to monitor the movements of the test masses in free fall inside the spacecraft. LISA satellites are built by ESA, ESA member countries and NASA.

LISA’s hardware had its very successful first test in space with the LISA Pathfinder (LPF) mission, led by ESA with the participation of NASA. This included extensive testing of crucial components of LISA’s technology. LPF has demonstrated that it is possible to place and hold test masses in free fall to an astonishing level of accuracy, and that the exquisite metrology needed for LISA meets the requirements.

LISA will observe gravitational waves in a lower frequency band than those detectable by LIGO and Virgo, allowing us to observe much larger systems at earlier times in the history of the universe.

The LISA consortium is a large international collaboration that combines the resources and expertise of scientists from many countries around the world. In collaboration with ESA as lead agency and NASA as international partner, the LISA Consortium is working on the realization of the LISA mission.

Video: Presentation of the Lisa Pathfinder mission

Provided by the LISA Consortium and the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics

Quote: Laser Interferometer Space Antenna Reaches Crucial Milestone (May 4, 2022) Retrieved May 4, 2022 from

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