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The LISA Pathfinder Mission

Tracing Einstein’s Geodesics in Space

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LISA Pathfinder, formerly known as SMART-2, is the second of the European Space Agency’s Small Missions for Advance Research and Technology, and is designed to pave the way for the joint ESA/NASA Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) mission, by testing the core assumption of gravitational wave detection and general relativity: that free particles follow geodesics. The new technologies to be demonstrated in a space environment include: inertial sensors, high precision laser interferometry to free floating mirrors, and micro-Newton proportional thrusters. LISA Pathfinder will be launched on a dedicated launch vehicle in late 2011 into a low Earth orbit. By a transfer trajectory, the sciencecraft will enter its final orbit around the first Sun-Earth Lagrange point. First science results are expected approximately 3 months thereafter.

Here, we give an overview of the mission including the technologies being demonstrated.

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Correspondence to Giuseppe D. Racca.

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Racca, G.D., McNamara, P.W. The LISA Pathfinder Mission. Space Sci Rev 151, 159–181 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11214-009-9602-x

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  • LISA Pathfinder
  • Gravitational waves
  • Inertial sensing
  • Laser metrology
  • Charge management
  • Micro-Newton thrusters
  • Colloids


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