The Success of LISA Pathfinder

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!



4 Responses to “The Success of LISA Pathfinder”

  1. Instead of claiming it overperformed its expectations they should accept that they modeled the noise wrong.

  2. Anton Garrett Says:

    I presume the frequency of maximum sensitivity for LISA is significantly different from aLIGO, but not so different that the two experiments cannot be used in conjunction?

  3. The light travel time for LISA is ~20s so the maximum observable frequency is much lower that LIGO. And of course LISA is about 20 years away…

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