ESA selects LISA gravity mission

Discussion in 'Astronomy, Exobiology, & Cosmology' started by danshawen, Jun 21, 2017.

  1. danshawen Valued Senior Member


    With the detection of a third set of gravity waves at LIGO, and the successful conclusion of NASA's Pathfinder proof-of-concept mission next month, LISA's scheme for detecting gravity waves at ranges touching the ends of the observable universe by means of three identical intererometer satellites stationed 2.5 million kilometers apart has been selected for funding by the European Space Agency.

    Here is a quick summary of bullet points provided that are relevant to the mission:
    • Gravitational waves are a prediction of the Theory of General Relativity
    • It took decades to develop the technology to directly detect them
    • They are ripples in the fabric of space-time generated by violent events
    • Accelerating masses will produce waves that propagate at the speed of light
    • Detectable sources ought to include merging black holes and neutron stars
    • LIGO fires lasers into long, L-shaped tunnels; the waves disturb the light
    • LISA will fire lasers between three spacecraft separated by 2.5 million km
    • Detecting the waves opens up the Universe to completely new investigations
    Additional information can be found at:

    Sadly, this mission is slated for launch in 2034, which means it will be operational too late for it to monitor the gravitational waves generated by the stellar supernova merger event coming in or around 2022. We will need to depend on LIGO's ground based interferometers to calibrate themselves based on what we physically see compared to what the upgraded interferometers can "hear" from the event.

    I'm hoping the space-based interferometer mission will also be a boon to the monitoring of stellar quakes from our own sun, which would amount to only hundreds of watts of gravitational energy, but as it is much closer to the detectors than the edge of the known universe, the inverse square law for gravity waves would be confirmed in this way.

    No use waiting for Jupiter to finish an orbit to emit detectable gravity waves; that would require observations spanning over 12 years. The monitored events, if they are to be detected at all, must be relatively short in duration.

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