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  • The three LISA spacecraft will be placed in orbits that form a triangular formation with center 20° behind the Earth and side length 5 million km. (The figure showing the formation is made to scale). Credits: NASA.

Exploring the Gravitational Universe

The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) will be the first space-based gravitational wave observatory. Selected to be ESA's third large-class mission, it will address the science theme of the Gravitational Universe. LISA will consist of three spacecraft separated by 2.5 million km in a triangular formation, following Earth in its orbit around the Sun. Launch is expected in 2034.


The first space-based gravitational wave observatory

LISA is a mission concept proposed by the LISA Consortium on January 13th, 2017 following the call for the L3 mission of the European Space Agency. LISA is an all-sky monitor and will offer a wide view of a dynamic cosmos using Gravitational Waves as new and unique messengers to unveil The Gravitational Universe. The LISA mission will scan the entire sky as it follows behind the Earth in its orbit, obtaining both polarisations of the Gravitational Waves simultaneously, and will measure source parameters with astrophysically relevant sensitivity in a band from below 1E-4 Hz to above 1 Hz.

The three LISA spacecraft in orbit around the Sun, trailing Earth by 50-60 million km. Over the course of one year, the LISA instrument covers the gravity sky in different perspectives. Credits: LISA.

ICE-CSIC's participation

The ICE-CSIC is interested in all the aspects of Gravitational Wave Astronomy: Instrumental Hardware & Software; Data Analysis Developments; and Science Exploitation (including GW source simulations to assist the Data Analysis).

Regarding the contribution of our group to LISA, we expect to lead the Spanish contribution to be funded by the Spanish government, as in the case of the LISA Pathfinder mission. This contribution will consists of:

  • Payload Control System, including the Software. The exact functions of this System in LISA are yet to be defined.
  • Payload Diagnostics Package: Sensors (and also some actuators): Thermal, magnetic and radiation monitor, again as we did for the LISA Pathfinder mission. 
  • It is important to mention that the know-how acquired in the LISA Pathfinder mission has allow us to set up (in the optics laboratory) a high-precision laser metrology system operating at low frequencies that has a lot of potential to play an important role during the mission development, in particular to test hardware developed by other institutes in the LISA collaboration.
  • Ground Segment: Data Center. The main Data Center will be located in France (in Paris). The ICE-CSIC will have another one that will enable local analysis of the real data. Other similar Data Centers will be located in Germany, UK, and Italy. This Center will be an improvement of the current operations room for LISA Pathfinder that we have at the ICE-CSIC premises.


Senior institute members involved

Meet the senior researchers who lead our participation in the LISA mission.

  • Carlos Sopuerta

    Carlos Sopuerta

  • Jordi Isern

    Jordi Isern

  • Miquel Nofrarias

    Miquel Nofrarias