Space mission cleared for launch

Issued: Mon, 25 Nov 2013 15:42:00 GMT

Scientists at Glasgow’s Institute for Gravitational Research (IGR) have reached an important milestone that signals they are on course for the launch of the LISA Pathfinder mission in 2015.

LISA Pathfinder is a European Space Agency technology test mission that aims to pave the way for a future spaceborne detector to measure gravitational waves. These ripples in spacetime are caused by violent astronomical events such as the collision of black holes and the explosion of dying stars. Measuring them will allow scientists to trace the formation, growth, and merger history of black holes and enable the testing of Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity with observations.

Tested at the IGR in Glasgow, the optical bench of the LISA Pathfinder is the super-sensitive heart of the technology demonstrator mission. It has now been further integrated into the core assembly of the satellite and the team has demonstrated that the sensor system is ready to survive forces of up to 35 times the gravitational acceleration on Earth during rocket launch, and still maintain its exquisite alignment.

Dr Christian Killow, Scottish Universities Physics Alliance Advanced Fellow at the University, says: ‘The sophisticated laser interferometer performs superbly and is ready for its job in space.’

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