LISA Pathfinder sets the stage for a gravitational wave hunt in space

June 14, 2016
Results released by the ESA's LISA Pathfinder team suggest it’s possible to achieve the sensitivity needed to build the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA).

A space-based gravitational wave observatory, which those planning a European mission generally call the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA), is about 30 years old. And it could be 20 years more before we see it in action. But results released today by the European Space Agency’s LISA Pathfinder team suggest it’s possible to achieve the sensitivity needed to build it. Such a space-based observatory would use a technique similar to its Earth-bound cousin LIGO—which announced the first direct detection of gravitational waves earlier this year—to detect slight ripples in the fabric of space-time. But the quarry would be gravitational waves in a frequency range that’s inaccessible here on Earth, one that includes sources such as merging supermassive black holes in the heart of colliding galaxies. Read the full article on IEEE Spectrum.
The Laser Focus World take:

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) first detected cosmic gravitaional waves on September 14, 2015. We reported on it and some of the photonics instruments that helped in the seminal event. The LISA Pathfinder is the first step into a new dimension of gravitaional wave detection.

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About the Author

Conard Holton | Editor at Large

Conard Holton has 25 years of science and technology editing and writing experience. He was formerly a staff member and consultant for government agencies such as the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the International Atomic Energy Agency, and engineering companies such as Bechtel. He joined Laser Focus World in 1997 as senior editor, becoming editor in chief of WDM Solutions, which he founded in 1999. In 2003 he joined Vision Systems Design as editor in chief, while continuing as contributing editor at Laser Focus World. Conard became editor in chief of Laser Focus World in August 2011, a role in which he served through August 2018. He then served as Editor at Large for Laser Focus World and Co-Chair of the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar from August 2018 through January 2022. He received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, with additional studies at the Colorado School of Mines and Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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