October 23, 2017

Neutron star collision an astronomical gold mine

October 17, 2017

On Aug. 17, gravity waves rippled through the solar system, slightly squeezing and stretching the space Earth occupies, the result of a catastrophic collision of two compact-but-massive neutron stars, producing a so-called “kilonova” explosion that seeded the local environment with a flood of heavy elements ranging from gold and platinum to uranium and beyond, scientists said Monday.

Pioneering probe for gravitational wave observatory ends mission

July 19, 2017

The European Space Agency’s LISA Pathfinder spacecraft, now sailing around the sun on a trajectory away from Earth, was deactivated Tuesday after a nearly 18-month mission testing previously-untried lasers, vacuum enclosures, exotic gold-platinum cubes and micro-thrusters needed for a trio of gravitational wave observatories set for launch in the 2030s.

Black holes crash together and make waves

June 1, 2017

Three billion years ago, in a third of a second, two black holes crashed into each other and merged into a single entity, converting two solar masses into energy that shook the fabric of spacetime, sending gravitational ripples across the universe that were detected on Earth last January, researchers announced Thursday.

Gravitational wave testbed repurposed as comet dust detector

April 26, 2017

In the final months of Europe’s LISA Pathfinder mission, scientists have found an unexpected use for the trailblazing testbed for a future gravitational wave observatory by tracking the tiny dings made by microscopic particles that strike the spacecraft in deep space, exploiting the impacts to learn about the population of dust grains cast off by comets and asteroids across the solar system.

LISA Pathfinder success bolsters plan for gravitational wave observatory

June 8, 2016

Europe’s LISA Pathfinder mission — a fundamental physics lab launched last year to a point a million miles from Earth — has demonstrated the mind-boggling technology required for a future space-based observatory to listen for faint, low-frequency vibrations emitted by invisible objects in the most distant pockets of the universe, scientists said this week.

Gravitational waves detected, opening new era in astronomy

February 11, 2016

A century after Albert Einstein predicted their existence, gravitational waves have finally been detected, tiny ripples in the fabric of spacetime that were generated when two massive black holes crashed together in a space-warping cataclysm.

LISA Pathfinder on station a million miles from Earth

January 25, 2016

Europe’s LISA Pathfinder mission crafted to demonstrate the ability to detect gravitational waves — theorized ubiquitous cosmic signals that have so far eluded discovery — has arrived at its operating post around the L1 Lagrange point nearly a million miles from Earth.

Q&A with Alvaro Gimenez, ESA’s director of science

December 9, 2015

Alvaro Giménez Cañete manages the European Space Agency’s science program, a portfolio with a budget of nearly $600 million this year, and he recently spoke with Spaceflight Now about Europe’s hopes to build a gravitational wave observatory, the ExoMars mission to Mars, and tagging along with NASA’s probe to Jupiter’s moon Europa.

European probe blasts off on gravitational wave demonstration

December 3, 2015

A solid-fueled Vega launcher fired through a low cloud deck and sped into orbit from the South American jungle early Thursday with a pioneering European spacecraft that marks a key step in a century-long quest to detect elusive gravitational waves predicted to permeate the cosmos.

Live coverage: Vega rocket launches with LISA Pathfinder

December 2, 2015

A Vega rocket has blasted off with Europe’s LISA Pathfinder tech demo mission, a probe heading to a station a million miles from Earth to test systems for a future gravitational wave observatory. Liftoff from French Guiana occurred at 0404 GMT Thursday (11:04 p.m. EST Wednesday).

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