Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Friday, October 03, 2008

LISA Pathfinder will pave the way for a major ESA/NASA mission planned for the near future

Bob, in New Zealand, passed me a couple of links about Hubble Space
Telescope findings and the LISA Pathfinder mission progress. (see

I thought I should take a better look at what the LISA Pathfinder is about.
- LRK -


LISA Pathfinder will pave the way for a major ESA/NASA mission planned
for the near future: LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna), aimed
at detecting gravitational waves generated by very massive objects
such as black holes. Detecting gravitational waves will tell us more
about the way space and time are interconnected.

The mission consists of placing two test-masses in a nearly perfect
gravitational free-fall, and of controlling and measuring their motion
with unprecedented accuracy. This is achieved through state-of-the-art
technology comprising inertial sensors, a laser metrology system, a
drag-free control system and an ultra-precise micro-propulsion system.

All these technologies are essential not only for LISA; they also lie
at the heart of any future space-based test of Einstein's General
Relativity. LISA Pathfinder is scheduled for launch at the end of

When you read the whole article from the European Space Agency, it
reads like science fiction.
- LRK -

Very first detection of gravitational waves in space

With LISA Pathfinder, the technology needed to detect gravitational
waves will be tested in space for the very first time. Using this
technology, LISA will be able to show whether a key prediction of
Albert Einstein's, put forward more than 90 years ago in his General
Theory of Relativity, is indeed correct. The prediction is that
ripples in space-time, known as gravitational waves, criss-cross the
Universe, however, these waves have never been detected directly. By
detecting these ripples, LISA will tell us more about the way in which
space and time are interwoven. LISA will detect these waves, their
intensity, properties and direction in order to investigate elusive
objects such as black holes and neutron star binary systems within our
galaxy that we would otherwise have no way of observing.


You probably have seen criss-crossed standing waves in a stream where
two rocks stick out and the water flowing by makes ripples that
radiate out and cross each other. They might look like they are fixed
in place and yet the water is rushing by. What if massive bodies were
to disturb the gravitational attraction each feels of the other and
there would be some way to experience this?

If you thought you had an idea of how to test this theory, how long
would you persevere in seeing a mission take place that could go out
in space and sense the disturbance in the force?
- LRK -


LISA Pathfinder was approved by the ESA Science Programme Committee
(SPC) in November 2000. It was further reconfirmed by the same body
and by the ESA Council in May 2002, as part of ESA's new 'Cosmic
Vision' Scientific Programme.


How would you go about making the spacecraft quiet enough to feel any
disturbance from out there in space while you are in orbit around the
L1 point?
- LRK -

The Disturbance Reduction System (DRS) is an experiment provided by
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, which includes also a
set of micro-rockets that aim to control the spacecraft's position to
within a millionth of a millimetre. Once validated by this mission,
the technology on LISA Pathfinder will be ready to be used in the more
complex and further-reaching mission LISA. There the relative movement
of two spacecrafts located 5 million kilometres apart will be measured
to an accuracy of 10 picometres (1 picometre is equal to one millionth
of a millionth of a metre).

And you thought your were just going to lay out in the Sun with
nothing between you and the rays.
May the force be with you and may you be one with it.
- LRK -

Thanks for looking up with me.

Larry Kellogg

Web Site:
RSS link:
LISA Pathfinder

System level acoustic tests completed
23 Sep 2008 11:23
The LISA Pathfinder system level acoustic tests were performed on 9
and 10 September 2007 at the Large European Acoustic Facility (LEAF)
at ESTEC, The Netherlands. The purpose of these tests was to confirm
the load levels on the spacecraft units arising from random
vibrations. Initial assessment of the test results indicates that the
loads were as expected.

The science and propulsion modules arrived at ESTEC in early August.
Since then the modules have been in one of the clean rooms being
prepared for these acoustic tests, the first in a series of system
level tests scheduled for this year. The tests are performed on
representative models of the flight modules with dummy masses taking
the place of most system units.

LISA Pathfinder modules ready for acoustic tests
01 Sep 2008 09:43
The LISA Pathfinder science and propulsion modules are now ready for
acoustic testing in the Large European Acoustic Facility (LEAF) at
ESTEC, The Netherlands. In the four weeks since the modules arrived at
ESTEC engineers have been busy preparing the units for this first
system test.

For these acoustic tests a spare flight model of the science module
has been equipped with representative models of the micro-propulsion
thrusters, the flight model of the solar array and a number of dummy
masses (which take the place of many of the standard system units).
When it comes to galaxies, diversity is everywhere [heic0819]

A thorough survey using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has
observed around 14 million stars in 69 galaxies.
Some galaxies were found to be full of ancient stars, while others are
like sun-making factories.

The detailed study, called the ACS Nearby Galaxy Survey Treasury
(ANGST) program, explored a region called the Local Volume, where
galaxy distances range from 6.5 million light-years to 13 million
light-years from Earth.

Many stars in nearby galaxies are the fossil equivalents of new stars
forming in the far Universe. "When we look back in time at distant,
young galaxies, we see lots of vigorous star formation. However, we
can only guess as to what those galaxies might eventually turn into,"
Dalcanton explained. "Using the galaxies in the nearby Universe as a
'fossil record', we can compare them with young galaxies far away.
This comparison gives us a history of star formation and provides a
better understanding of the masses, structures, and environments of
the galaxies."




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