11/30/2015 | Aerospace: To detect gravitational waves

LISA Pathfinder, ESA’s technology demonstrator for detecting gravitational-waves will help to open up a completely new observational window into the gravitational Universe, by testing new technologies needed to measure gravitational waves in space. Predicted by Albert Einstein, these waves are ripples in the curvature of spacetime produced by massive celestial events, such as the merging of black holes.

Detecting gravitational waves would also be an additional confirmation of General Relativity, and greatly enhance our knowledge of the most powerful phenomena in the Universe.

ALTER TECHNOLOGY was in charge of the quality assurance, engineering and coordinated procurement of the payload and spacecraft. In this frame, ATN performed the technological evaluations, prepared and integrated the procurement spacifications and performed the testing needed to ensure the quality and performance of the electronic components on-board the satellite. The activities carried out by ATN between years 2005 and 2008, were performed to more than two thousand different electronic components.

The launch of the LISA Pathfinder is planned for 2 December 2015. The spacecraft will be launched by a Vega rocket from Kourou, French Guiana, and will be placed into a slightly elliptical parking orbit. From there, it will use its own propulsion module to reach its final operational orbit, a 500 000 km by 800 000 km halo orbit around the first Sun–Earth Lagrange point, 1.5 million kilometres from Earth.

Image: ESA