ESA ends gravitational-wave detection technology demonstration mission LISA Pathfinder


The European Space Agency (ESA) has deactivated its gravitational-wave detection technology demonstration mission, LISA Pathfinder, after completing 16 months of in-space scientific operation.

The life of LISA Pathfinder, launched into space in December 2015, came to end when it was powered down after receiving the last commands from the mission operation team on ground.

During its mission, the spacecraft tested key technologies for LISA, the proposed gravitational-wave observatory in space, and demonstrated their operative readiness.

ESA is planning to launch LISA into space in 2034 as part of a mission to measure low-frequency gravitational waves.

"With LISA we will listen to mergers of supermassive black holes from the entire universe and measure their properties. "

LISA Pathfinder mission co-principal investigator and Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics director Karsten Danzmann said: “After years of planning and the launch of the satellite in December 2015 we have been spending many days and nights since early 2016 paving the way for the future of gravitational-wave astronomy with LISA Pathfinder.

“With LISA we will listen to mergers of supermassive black holes from the entire universe and measure their properties.

“With this we will complement detections of earthbound instruments such as GEO600, LIGO, and Virgo and add to our incomplete picture of the dark side of the Universe.”

The Space Administration at German Aerospace Centre and Max Planck Society funded the German contribution to the LISA Pathfinder mission.


Image: LISA Pathfinder has demonstrated core elements of a space borne gravitational-wave observatory. Photo: courtesy of ESA–C.Carreau.