Archive for February 8, 2018

The Success of LISA Pathfinder

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , on February 8, 2018 by telescoper

Back in Maynooth, in between lecture and computer lab session, I only have time for a quick post so I’ll take the opportunity to share the recent news from LISA Pathfinder (which is basically a technology demonstrator mission intended to establish the feasibility of a proposed space-based gravitational wave facility called LISA). LISA Pathfinder is ostensibly an extremely simple experiment, consisting of two metal cubes (made of a gold-platinum mixture) about 38cm apart. The question it tries to answer is how accurately these two cubes can be put an ideal “free-fall” state, i.e. when the only force acting on them is gravity. I say `ostensibly’ however, in full knowledge that is an extremely challenging task that requires lots of clever design and painstaking work.

Initial signs were promising, and the confidence has now been justified by a paper in Physical Review Letters. Here is the abstract:

This is the key figure:

This confirms that the spacecraft has more than matched the sensitivity requirement demanded of it. Congratulations to the LISA Pathfinder mission on an outstanding success!