Surf’s Up! eLISA Still Riding The Gravitational Waves. Although ESA decided to choose JUICE for Europe’s next large space science mission, the international Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) team is still hanging tough.
Through its studies of low-frequency gravitational wave astronomy, the eLISA mission (evolved Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, also known as NGO, or New Gravitational-Wave Observatory) ended up at the head of the class. The scientific community ranks it highest in terms of scientific interest, strategic value for science, and strategic value for the projects in Europe. This is a considerable feather in the cap of the self-funded and independent eLISA consortium – because it’s the first time a gravitational wave observatory has ranked as high in scientific priority.
The eLISA consortium consists of a management board, a steering committee, and working groups in science, technology, and data analysis. It represents the European states involved in eLISA, i.e., Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK. The consortium is led by Prof. Dr. Karsten Danzmann, who chaired the former LISA International Science Team and is a director at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute/AEI) and a professor at the Leibniz Universität in Hannover, Germany.
As this group readies for the next competition, they will also pay tribute to ESA’s LISA Pathfinder (LPF) mission. Scheduled to launch in 2014, the LPF will demonstrate gravity-measuring techniques, opening the door for future gravitational wave equipment and more technologically advanced Earth and planetary gravimetry.
“Our goal is to keep this highly motivated and effective scientific community together. It has attracted many young and excellent researchers. The knowledge and innovative potential of our community is documented in more than 2000 published scientific papers — we want to keep it working on a strong science, technology, and data analysis program”, says Karsten Danzmann, describing the role of the eLISA consortium.
The door is open to other countries to participate as well. Researchers from the US, China, and other interested countries are all invited.. At the LISA Symposium, US participants presented their findings using less expensive LISA variants and expressed interest in collaborating with the ESA. Also, for the first time, China also expressed their desire to work in tandem with a gravitation wave mission as they develop their own gravitational wave detector.
Right now Europe dominates this particular field of astronomy and the scientific community awaits many new, important discoveries. According to the press release, eLISA’s technology for gravity measurement in space has practical importance for society: it is already being incorporated into Earth geodesy missions. What’s more, the mission will open the gravitational wave window in space and measure gravitational radiation over a broad band of frequencies, from about 0.1 mHz to 100 mHz, a band where the Universe is richly populated by strong sources of gravitational waves.
Tammy Plotner for ‘Astro Space News’ Original Story Source: eLISA/NGO News Release.