LISA, the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, has passed a major review with flying colours: the entire concept – from the definition of the overall mission and operations to the space hardware to be built – stood up to the intense scrutiny of ESA´s reviewers. Now the space agency´s Science Programme Committee (SPC) has confirmed that LISA is sufficiently mature and that mission development can proceed as planned. LISA should go into orbit in the mid 2030s.
“This trailblazing mission will take us to the next level in a really exciting area of space science and keep European scientists at the forefront of gravitational wave research,” says ESA Director of Science Carole Mundell.
LISA´s successful Mission Adoption Review and the adoption by ESA´s Science Programme Committee on January 25th was the formal end of the study phase. LISA will now transition into the implementation phase where the next key milestones are the selection of an industrial prime contractor, the Preliminary Design Review, and the Critical Design Review.
The LISA instrument is a first of its kind space borne gravitational wave observatory. It will consist of three spacecraft in a triangular configuration with 2.5-million-kilometre arms, moving in an Earth-like orbit around the Sun. LISA will detect gravitational radiation in the yet unexplored window between 0.1 mHz and 1 Hz, waves that cannot be detected by ground-based detectors such as LIGO, Virgo and KAGRA. It will study black holes a million or more times heavier than our Sun, but also stellar black holes swirling around massive ones in galactic nuclei and a large number of binary and multiple compact objects in our Milky Way. All the discoveries of LISA will continue to uncover new horizons of the universe and carry on the gravitational wave revolution in astrophysics, started by ground-based detectors.
“The Virgo collaboration congratulates LISA colleagues on achieving this important goal that is the outcome of years of hard work and outstanding results” said Virgo spokesperson Gianluca Gemme, “The adoption of the LISA mission in ESA’s programme is an excellent news that demonstrates how gravitational wave research has taken on a very prominent role for fundamental physics and astronomy.”