LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) is a selected large-class mission by the European Space Agency (ESA) for the L3 launch opportunity, scheduled in 2034. The mission consists of three spacecrafts that are separated by millions of kilometers and trailing tens of millions of kilometres, more than one hundred times the distance to the Moon, behind the Earth as we orbit the Sun. These three spacecrafts relay laser beams back and forth between the different spacecrafts and the signals are combined to search for gravitational wave signatures coming from distortions of spacetime. This giant detector, bigger than the size of Earth, will catch gravitational waves from orbiting black holes hundreds of millions of times more massive than our sun.
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. It provides the closest ever view of the infant Universe at TeV energy scales, has known sources in the form of verification binaries in the Milky Way, and can probe the entire Universe, from its smallest scales near the horizons of black holes, all the way to cosmological scales. 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 0.0001 Hz to above 1 Hz.
The IEEC is interested in all the aspects of Gravitational Wave Astronomy: Instrumental Hardware & Software; Data Analysis Developments; and Science Exploitation (including GW source simulations to assists the Data Analysis).
Regarding the contribution of the IEEC to LISA, we expect to lead the Spanish contribution, to be funded by the Spanish government, as in the case of 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 located in France (in Paris). The IEEC will have another one that will enable local analysis of the real data. Other similar Data Centers will located in Germany, UK, and Italy. This Center will be an improvement of the current operations room for LISA Pathfinder that is currently located in the premises of the ICE.