Wednesday, 12 September 2018

LISA Pathfinder: mission accomplished

Versione stampabile

They have studied and worked together, and travelled from one continent to another for over ten years to accomplish their dream: demonstrate the technological feasibility of a large gravitational wave observatory in space. Now that they have succeeded, the scientists of the international LISA Pathfinder collaboration will meet in Trento to celebrate and to reflect on the scientific results achieved in these years. 
The event is sponsored by ESA, ASI (the Italian Space Agency), INFN (the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics), the University of Trento and MUSE (the Trento Museum of Sciences).

The LISA Pathfinder mission by ESA – the European Space Agency, launched in December 2015 and concluded last June, opened the way to a new era in the exploration of the Universe. The mission challenged the idea that gravitational waves could be detected from space, demonstrating that it is possible to observe and measure with high precision the movement of two free-floating gold and platinum test masses. In this way, LISA Pathfinder paved the way for the construction of LISA – Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, a gravitational wave observatory in space, whose launch is expected in 2034. This is a new and ambitious objective, one of ESA’s largest missions included in its Cosmic Vision programme for the next twenty years.

The mission was a great group effort: LISA Pathfinder was made possible thanks to collaboration among the space agencies of Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, United Kingdom with Nasa, coordinated by ESA. The final phase of the LISA PATHFINDER operations will officially take place at the end of 2018, but the precious data it collected will be examined and used by scientists for much longer. 
Scientists, engineers and students from research institutes from all over the world who participated in the mission gathered yesterday at the Science Museum in Trento to review the data and their impact on the next LISA mission. The location for the meeting is Trento because the University played a key role in the mission, working in close collaboration with INFN, the National Institute for Nuclear Physics, and ASI, Italian Space Agency, through principal investigator Stefano Vitale and the group work of the Experimental Gravitation Laboratory, which developed the inertial sensors for the mission.

For further information on the event: