LISA Pathfinder switched off


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After a successful mission proving the technology for a full scale orbiting gravitational wave detector, LISA Pathfinder was shut off yesterday.

After 16 months of science measurements an international team deactivated the LISA Pathfinder satellite on the evening of the 18th of July 2017. The gravitational-wave laboratory in space powered down after receiving the last commands in the evening and circles the Sun on a safe parking orbit. LISA Pathfinder has tested key technologies for LISA, the future gravitational-wave observatory in space, and has demonstrated their operative readiness. LISA is scheduled to launch into space in 2034 as an ESA mission and will “listen” to the entire Universe by measuring low-frequency gravitational waves.

The idea is laudable, but for Europe to need another seventeen years to build and launch the full scale telescope is absurd. They now know what needs to be done. It should be relatively easy and quick to get it into orbit. And even if it isn’t easy, seventeen more years? Give me a break.

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2 comments

  • LocalFluff

    I don’t understand how anyone plans a 17 year project these days. BUT! It is a unique instrument the like of which never has and will never exist. When the guys who discovered gravitational waves say so, I shut up and listen. If Kip Thorne says so, I believe it. I believe anything he says. Gravitational waves in the spacetime fabric(?) Maybe I’ll have a chance to see a glimpse him when he receives his Nobel prize in Stockholm this November. The Einstein of our time. Now even the Big Bang isn’t the limit. Making weird weirder.

  • Edward

    LocalFluff wrote: “I don’t understand how anyone plans a 17 year project these days.

    If a project needs a lot of development, then it can take a long time to complete. Gravity Probe-B spent several decades developing new technologies in order to get the astonishingly spherical gyros, a magnetic-field-free environment, and other difficult innovations.

    At first I thought that the 17 years were needed for LISA to develop some forms of technologies or techniques, but the article says, “LISA Pathfinder has tested key technologies for LISA, the future gravitational-wave observatory in space, and has demonstrated their operative readiness.” It later says, “LISA Pathfinder has shown that the required technology for the LISA mission is already working optimally.

    With all the required technology in hand, there must be some unreported reason for such a long lead time to manufacture the three spacecraft. Or maybe ESA is just as unreasonably bureaucratic and slow as the US Defense Department.

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