We are scientists from the LISA Pathfinder Collaboration, and we have demonstrated the technology to detect low-frequency gravitational waves from space. Ask us anything!
Our short bio:
Hi Reddit, we’re looking forward to your questions!
- Paul McNamara (PMN), LISA Pathfinder Project Scientist at ESA
- Cesar Garcia Marirrodriga (CGM), LISA Pathfinder Project Manager, ESA
- Stefano Vitale (SV), Principal Investigator of the LISA Technology Package (the core payload of LISA Pathfinder) from University of Trento and INFN, Italy
- Martin Hewitson (MH), LISA Pathfinder Senior Scientist from Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics and Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany
- Claudia Mignone (CM), Science Writer, ESA
- Marco Trovatello (MT), Cross-Media Coordinator, ESA
Feel free to direct questions to specific people; answers will be signed with the corresponding initials.
The team will be here on 7 June, 14:00 CEST/12:00 GMT/08:00 EDT for about one hour. UPDATE: +++ AMA COMPLETE: IT’s 15:15 CEST AND WE ARE LOGGING OFF. THANK YOU FOR A GREAT NUMBER OF EXCELLENT QUESTIONS! WE MIGHT CHECK BACK TONIGHT OR TOMORROW MORNING TO SEE IF THERE ARE ANY QUESTIONS LEFT TO ANSWER +++
About LISA Pathfinder
LISA Pathfinder is a mission of the European Space Agency (ESA), launched in December 2015 and currently operating 1.5 million kilometres from Earth towards the Sun.
LISA Pathfinder is a demonstrator to test the technology needed to observe gravitational waves – fluctuations in the fabric of space-time – from space. To this aim, the mission has placed two test masses, a pair of identical 46-mm, 2-kg gold–platinum cubes, in the most precise freefall ever produced.
Today, the LISA Pathfinder Collaboration published a paper with the first result from the mission, based on only two months of science operations and showing that the two cubes at the heart of the spacecraft are falling freely through space with a relative acceleration lower than 1 part in ten millionths of a billionth of Earth’s gravity.
With such a control on the test masses, but placing each mass in its own spacecraft and linking it to the others over millions of kilometres via lasers, it will be possible to build a gravitational-wave observatory in space. Such an observatory will be able to detect low-frequency gravitational waves – between 0.1 mHz and 1 Hz – from exotic objects in the Universe such as binary systems of stellar remnants spiralling around each other or pairs of merging supermassive black holes.