Lisa Pathfinder
Image courtesy of ESA.

After a 20 year journey working its way from concept to approval and battling budget concerns and technical challenges Europe has launched the 400M€ Lisa Pathfinder satellite.

TRAK provided a number of products for the transponder, beacon, TT&C, datalink and ancillary equipment aboard the bus and payload including waveguide and coaxial ferrite isolators and circulators and passive assemblies that were supplied to Airbus DS (prime contractor) based in the UK and to Thales Alenia Space sites based in Italy and Spain.

Described as  ‘an exquisite space physics experiment’ the mis soon will test the technologies needed to detect gravitational waves – the warping of space-time produced by cataclysmic events in the cosmos. These ripples in space and time predicted by Albert Einstein’s in his 1916 Theory of General Relativity are thought to be generated by some of the most violent astrophysical events – such as exploding stars and collisions of black holes at the centres of galaxies. LISA is an experimental payload designed to test technologies that might be used on a large scale future mission.

Lisa (laser interferometer space antenna) Pathfinder went into orbit on 3rd December aboard a Vega rocket from French Guiana and is currently on route to a point some 1.5 million km from Earth where the European Space Agency (ESA) mission will operate for about a year.