View Full Version : LISA

2004-Jun-09, 02:46 PM
A read a while ago on a proposed mission called LISA (Laser Interferometry Space Antenna). It's supposed to be able to detect gravitational waves (if they exist) and is a joint venture of NASA and the ESA.

Has this been approved yet? When is it supposed to be launched? And what other uses will it have?

Tom Mazanec
2004-Jun-09, 03:03 PM
From the Nasa JPL website:

If approved by Congress, LISA will begin development in 2004, with a planned launch in 2011 and a planned duration of five years. Once in orbit, LISA's observations will help us to better understand the fundamental physical laws of the Universe, as well as how it began.

2004-Jun-09, 03:16 PM
When is Congress supposed to decide?

2004-Jun-09, 04:06 PM
Administrator O'Keefe says in a speech (http://www.nasa.gov/news/agency/ok_astronomical_060104.html) that development is underway.

2004-Jun-09, 05:51 PM
Our relativity group here at the Univ. of Texas at Brownsville is part of the collaboration working on LISA development. Here they're mostly working on developing the data analysis tools to use with LISA, since these tools must be mostly fixed before launch (tweaking the data analysis method has effects on design is the issue).

Here are links to the NASA and ESA pages on LISA:

Launch is now described as 2012. Since LISA is still in the developmental stage, this could change, for both budgetary and technical reasons. Congress has been willing to scrub missions that were all but on the launch pad, so we just have to wait and see.

Ground based detectors for gravitational waves are already operating, including three LIGO detectors at two sites in the US. They are less likely than LISA to see gravitational waves at current capabilities, although planned LIGO upgrades should precede LISA's launch and improve this somewhat.

Manchurian Taikonaut
2004-Jun-22, 07:47 AM
great idea for a mission, this should be good

2004-Jun-22, 02:28 PM
From the Lisa website (http://lisa.jpl.nasa.gov/TECHNOLOGY/challenges.html):
LISA needs to measure the distance between proof masses, separated by five million kilometers, with an accuracy of 10 picometers (10 millionths of a micron or half a billionth of an inch)!

Manchurian Taikonaut
2004-Jun-24, 06:05 PM
check the BBC news for more


2005-Jan-19, 05:47 PM
LISA Will Watch Snacking Black Holes (http://www.universetoday.com/am/publish/lisa_snacking_black_holes.html?1812005)

A new space observatory called the Laser Interferometer Space Antennae, or LISA, will help help astronomers watch black holes as they gorge on new matter, growing larger in the process. These binges are thought to cause gravitational waves, which are ripples in spacetime. LISA consists of three spacecraft separated by 4.8 million km (3 million miles) which keep track of their relative positions very carefully. As the gravitational waves pass, the spacecraft should move relative to each other, like boats floating on the ocean when a wave goes past. LISA should launch in 2008, and will hopefully detect several black hole events a year.

Manchurian Taikonaut
2005-Jan-21, 12:30 AM
Laser Interferometry Space Antenna is a smart plan and may be very good, this is what they think that 'supernova in a not too distant galaxy will drench every square metre here on Earth with kilowatts of gravitational radiation. The resulting length changes are, however, very small because spacetime is an extremely stiff elastic medium, so that it takes extremely large energies to produce even minute distortions'. It sounds like this mission will give us great information, they say quote : 'If LISA does not detect the gravitational waves from known binaries with the intensity and polarisation predicted by General Relativity, it would shake the very foundations of gravitational physics.' and a mission lifetime of five years sounds great :D

Manchurian Taikonaut
2005-Apr-11, 04:07 PM
LISA Will Watch Snacking Black Holes (http://www.universetoday.com/am/publish/lisa_snacking_black_holes.html?1812005)

A new space observatory called the Laser Interferometer Space Antennae, or LISA, will help help astronomers watch black holes as they gorge on new matter, growing larger in the process. These binges are thought to cause gravitational waves, which are ripples in spacetime. LISA consists of three spacecraft separated by 4.8 million km (3 million miles) which keep track of their relative positions very carefully. As the gravitational waves pass, the spacecraft should move relative to each other, like boats floating on the ocean when a wave goes past. LISA should launch in 2008, and will hopefully detect several black hole events a year.

There is some more info out here

It is a three-spacecraft mission, designed to detect the ‘ripples’ in space given out when very massive objects undergo strong acceleration. For example, they are produced when a black hole swallows a massive neutron star. Such ripples are called ‘gravitational waves'. LISA will be the first mission to attempt their detection from space.
LISA's mission to detect Einstein's gravitional waves
A five million kilometre journey from the Earth. ESA's LISA mission, aiming to hit the low notes in Space and detect Einstein's gravitional waves, confirming his Theory of Relativity, using gold cubes and laser technology.
Video of LISA mission

Manchurian Taikonaut
2005-Apr-26, 04:42 PM
A bit more data on the mission, and ideas ahead



2005-Apr-26, 11:24 PM
Shamless plug: The University of Birmingham is in LISA's posse.

2005-Apr-27, 08:47 AM
Shameless plug 2: I believe Cardiff university is too.

I remember having to give a talk on it to my year.

Launch window
2005-Aug-05, 10:23 PM
some good websites on this


Manchurian Taikonaut
2005-Sep-12, 07:42 AM
LISA Pathfinder technology

2005-Sep-12, 01:47 PM
Thanks Manchurian Taikonaut, that's a nice site.
Some pathfinder missions tell us something interesting science wise, but it looks like this one is all about verifying the technology.

Manchurian Taikonaut
2005-Oct-05, 01:36 AM
LISA in new light: success in laser development
3 October 2005
The joint ESA/NASA Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) mission will require lasers with extraordinary frequency and power stability. A European team, led by ESA, has now demonstrated a prototype laser that satisfies the requirements of the mission.

Launch window
2005-Nov-28, 01:35 PM
Scientists believe they are on the verge of measuring gravitational waves, one of the most elusive phenomena in the universe, for the first time.


2006-Jan-23, 07:00 PM
I like the Lisa Mission, but I have severe reservations. The sensitivities of the LIGO telescopes will be difficult to duplicate in a space environment, due to the known hostilities of a space environment (heat dissipation, solar kinetics and ionization, cosmic rays, micrometeorites.)

Scientists have been 'on the verge of' providing definitive proof of gravity waves for at least three decades.

However, if they can achieve the sensitivities necessary, they should also be able to provide a sanity test of general ralativity - is the gravitational 'contraction of space' consistent with AE's predictions?

2006-Jan-24, 04:27 AM
The detection of gravity waves has me on the edge of my seat--to my knowledge, this is the only major test area of general relativity with no direct evidence (considering the detection of pulsars in relativisitically decaying orbits indirect evidence). We really need to find these things.

2006-Jan-24, 04:40 AM
The data from LIGO is available for crunching at home in the form of a project called Einstein@Home (same concept as SETI@Home).

Join and help find the first gravitational wave!


They've taken 4 runs of data thusfar, each at increasing instrument sensitivities, and will make a 5th run very soon at the designed sensitivity of the instrument.

2006-Jan-24, 07:53 AM
And BAUT has its own Einstein@Home team (http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php?t=33847) ... come one, come all, donate your spare PC cycles to finding gravitational radiation from pulsars!

(This counts as another shameless plug - I am a member of BAUT's E@H team).

2006-Jan-24, 09:30 AM
I think gravitational waves have already been detected [e.g., Hulse-Taylor], so I'm lukewarm towards LISA. LIGO makes more sense to me. I'd rather see the money go for the Hubble.

Manchurian Taikonaut
2006-Feb-09, 01:52 AM
Will this mission get axed now, seems the latest NASA budget chopped many things down. We have some news on those Cancelled/Delayed indefinitely - the cosmology programme, NASA's Beyond Einstein is under review and 2 of its missions LISA ( Laser Interferometer Space Antenna ), to search for ripples in SpaceTime called gravitational waves and ConstellationX might be delayed indefinitely or cancelled

2006-Feb-10, 02:07 AM
Cancellation of LISA would be a disaster. The purpose of LISA has very little to do with proving the existence of gravitational waves - its primary purpose is to utilize the waves to do atronomical observations. It complements LIGO in that they are sensitive to different frequencies. Whereas electromagnetic waves originate from the surface of the object, gravitational waves would be sensitive to (changes in) the entire configuration of the object.

Launch window
2006-Mar-01, 11:33 PM
Sadly it seems the latest NASA cuts will delay several key science missions indefinitely, including the Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF), a mission to detect and study Earth-like planets, Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA), a mission to search for gravitational waves, and Constellation-X, a mission to study black holes.

another discussion here
LISA might only detect solar oscillations

there was another thread here on the budget but unfortunately the discussion went political so the thread is locked

I'll post more on LISA when I hear the news

Launch window
2006-Apr-08, 10:14 AM
Two supermassive black holes spirling to collision
Posted: April 6, 2006

Sarazin and his colleagues used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to glean their results. Black holes are detectable because they produce large amounts of X-ray emission, similar to the radiation used for medical diagnosis. This high-energy radiation is invisible to our eyes, but can be seen with X-ray telescopes.

"There is no way to determine how a black hole was created or what kinds of things it has swallowed just by looking at the resulting black hole," Sarazin said. "You have to catch the black hole when it is sitting down to dinner or still eating."

That, essentially, is what the Sarazin team has accomplished. They focused their observations on the center of a cluster of galaxies named Abell 400 where astronomers had previously suggested that a pair of supermassive black holes might be colliding. The two holes seemed to be relatively close together, but there was no proof that they were bound to one another or merging.

"The question was: Is this pair of supermassive black holes an old married couple, or just strangers passing in the night?" Sarazin said. "We now know that they are coupled, but more like the mating of black widow spiders. One of the black holes invariably will eat the other."

NASA is interested in helping astronomers better understand the formation of supermassive black holes and is currently planning to build an array of three space satellites called LISA (Laser Interferometry Space Antenna) to detect gravity waves from merging black holes.

"Obviously, astronomers would like to be certain that this process of supermassive black hole mergers really does occur, so that LISA will have something to detect," Sarazin said.

In recent years, astronomers have discovered that every large galaxy in the present day universe likely has a supermassive black hole. The Milky Way's own supermassive black hole has swallowed as much material as four million suns. The biggest galaxies contain black holes that have swallowed many billions of stars worth of material.

2006-Jun-20, 05:40 PM
Thread moved from "Astronomy" to "Space Exploration."

2006-Jun-20, 05:41 PM
There's Gold in them thar Spacecraft: LISA 6 (http://scienceblogs.com/catdynamics/2006/06/theres_gold_in_them_thar_space.php)

That is a 1.96 kg cube of 3/4 gold, 1/4 platinum.

The actual LISA spacecraft, in a very real sense, is three of those, separated by 5 million kms.

At about $600 per ounce, that is a little over $100,000 of precious metal. Each of these is surrounded by about a 2 m "saucer", which is the auxilliary spacecraft.

Somewhat amusingly, depending on how you do your accounting, the ~ 300kg of epoxy, metal, optics and electronics wrapped around the gold/platinum cube is the expensive part. Per unit mass the chunk of gold is the cheapest part of the spacecraft!

2006-Jun-20, 05:44 PM
There's an interesting paper in arXiv today about what LISA might potentially observe, in one particular category:

These are events that LISA could detect from once a month to a couple times a day, depending on what the reality of the local universe turns out to be.

2006-Jun-20, 05:48 PM
Given the recent budget cuts, is there any hope for LISA?

Launch window
2006-Oct-12, 09:13 AM
The aim of the LISA Pathfinder is to test technologies needed for the NASA/ESA mission LISA, which will be a gravitational wave detector.

At the core of ESA's LISA Pathfinder mission sit two small hearts. Each is a cube, just 5 centimetres across.
Together they will allow LISA Pathfinder to lay the foundations for future space-based measurements that investigate the very core of Einstein's General Relativity.

Launch window
2007-Jan-25, 11:00 AM
The Science Case for LISA Pathfinder


Launch window
2007-Oct-08, 10:40 AM
Given the recent budget cuts, is there any hope for LISA?

The US senate has approved an extra billion for NASA, let's hope it doesn't get vetoed.

What Is Dark Energy? 'Beyond Einstein' Program Aims To Investigate (http://www.dentalplans.com/articles/24546/)

....The committee that wrote the report added that another proposed mission to detect gravitational waves using the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) should eventually become the flagship mission of Beyond Einstein, given that it is likely to provide an entirely new way to observe the universe. However, LISA needs more testing before a launch can be planned, whereas the Joint Dark Energy Mission is ready now for a competitive selection of mission concept proposals.

Prompted by Congress and the Office of Science and Technology Policy, NASA and DOE asked the committee to assess the five proposed mission areas and recommend one for first development and launch. NASA's Beyond Einstein program, set to begin in 2009, is comprised of two astronomical observatories, Constellation-X and LISA, as well as a series of probes: the Inflation Probe (IP), the Black Hole Finder Probe (BHFP), and JDEM.
The committee also recommended that NASA invest additional Beyond Einstein funds in technology development of the LISA program. LISA, which is funded through a partnership between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), is designed to detect gravitational waves arising from, among other phenomena, the merging of black holes.

2007-Oct-08, 03:10 PM
Moved, from Space Exploration to Astronomy.

Launch window
2008-Aug-22, 02:07 PM
LISA Pathfinder modules at ESTEC for system testing


20 Aug 2008
The science and propulsion modules of LISA Pathfinder have arrived at ESTEC for a series of system tests. These are devised to validate the spacecraft design parameters and to record the response of the LISA Pathfinder hardware to the launch environment by measuring acceleration loads on the spacecraft. The test campaign will continue until the end of 2008.

LISA Pathfinder, scheduled for launch in 2010, is the second of ESA's Small Missions for Advanced Research and Technology. It will pave the way for the ESA/NASA LISA mission by testing a number of critical LISA technologies in space and by performing the first in-flight tests of gravitational-wave detection metrology.

The spacecraft carries two payloads: the European LISA Technology Package (LTP) and the NASA-provided Disturbance Reduction System (DRS). Most elements of these payloads have been built and delivered to the respective prime contractors. Delivery of the final units is expected by the end of 2008. The current series of tests at ESTEC focuses on the characterisation of the spacecraft at system level.

2008-Aug-22, 03:59 PM

[...] ESA/NASA LISA mission [...]

Whatsa wrong with yousa? Whosa speaks like that?
--Jar Jar Binks (IMDB: Colbert Report (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0879459/))

Launch window
2008-Nov-30, 11:02 AM
Latest LISA Pathfinder hardware is a little gem

Launch window
2015-Dec-04, 05:32 AM
ESA Declares Vega Rocket Fully Operational With Lisa Pathfinder Launch

LISA Pathfinder launched on gravitational experiment

How Inertia Saved LISA Pathfinder Mission

2015-Dec-04, 05:47 AM
How Inertia Saved LISA Pathfinder Mission
From that link:

It is expected to reach its operating position, the Lagrangian Point 1 (L1) some 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, in mid-February and to operate for one year.

I was quoting this just for the time-frame update

Launch window
2017-Jun-21, 03:04 AM
LISA Pathfinder to conclude trailblazing mission
20 June 2017
After sixteen months of science operations, LISA Pathfinder will complete its mission on 30 June, having successfully demonstrated the technology to build ESA's future space observatory of gravitational waves.

2017-Jun-21, 04:05 PM
LISA Pathfinder to conclude trailblazing mission...
Nice, thanks for posting this! Nice clear article.