LISA Pathfinder

LISA Pathfinder


LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) Pathfinder is a space probe intended to test the technologies necessary to observe gravitational waves in a future mission, called eLISA, slated for launch in 2034. Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of spacetime itself caused by astronomical events and celestial bodies, as predicted by Albert Einstein in his General Theory of Relativity. In 2015, the first direct detection of gravitational waves was achieved by a laser-based observatory on Earth. The astronomical event of two black holes colliding created this first detectable gravitational wave. Further detection of gravitational waves is expected to usher in a new era of astronomy. LISA Pathfinder will not be able to detect gravitational waves itself, but will act as a significant step towards enabling future space probes to. The space probe carries a Disturbance Reduction System (DRS) onboard that gives LISA Pathfinder drone-like capabilities. Using the DRS, the LISA Pathfinder can control its own position using microthrusters that react to tiny sensed changes in its trajectory, often caused by solar radiation pressure.

Latest News: Problems look mighty small from 150 miles up. http://spaceipsum.com
(top image: Earth at night with its layers of atmosphere as seen by LISA Pathfinder's star tracker cameras, ESA/LPF/Airbus-DS; Acknowledgement to J. Grzymisch & M. Watt)