London, June 8: An experiment by the European Space Agency (ESA) has passed a series of crucial tests with flying colours — paving the way for gravitatiol wave observatory scheduled for launch in 2034. A crucial component of the experiment is a two-kg cube made up of a high-purity gold and platinum alloy, which is currently sailing through space almost completely free of any force other than gravity.
The project has proved in principle that a formation of such cubes flown in space will be able to function as a space-based gravitatiol wave observatory, which will be able to detect sigls from supermassive black hole collisions and other violent events that would be impossible to see on Earth. Details of the experiment — Laser Interferometer Space Anten (LISA) Pathfinder mission — was recently published in the jourl Physical Review Letters.
The free-falling test mass, as the gold and platinum cube is known, is nestled inside the shell-like LISA Pathfinder spacecraft, and has been orbiting a location in space called Lagrangian Point 1 (L1) since February 2016. At L1, the gravitatiol pull of the Earth and Sun are such that objects near the point execute orbits around L1 in much the same way that a satellite orbits the Earth. (IANS)