Sunday, July 23, 2017

This probe paved the way for studying gravitational waves from space — and now it’s been shut off

This probe paved the way for studying gravitational waves from space — and now it’s been shut off:

Yesterday, the European Space Agency said goodbye to one of its spacecraft that has helped pave the way for a new method of studying the Universe: the LISA Pathfinder, a car-sized probe that has been testing out technology needed to detect ripples in the fabric of space-time — called gravitational waves — from space. LISA Pathfinder completed its mission in June with resounding success. Now, the ESA has shut down the vehicle and sent it on a course far away from Earth — that way the spacecraft doesn’t become another piece of space junk that interferes with future missions.

LISA Pathfinder was always meant to be the opening act for a future mission called the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, or LISA. Meant to launch sometime in the...

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