On July 18th, 2017, LISA Pathfinder’s mission has come to completion, successfully demonstrating ESA key technologies to look at gravitational waves and showing the possibility of a new approach for astronomy.
Launched on December 3rd 2015, LISA Pathfinder, a mission of the European Space Agency, involving European space companies and research institutes from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the US space agency NASA, started its science mission in March 2016, shortly after the announcement of the first direct detection of gravitational waves.
In the frame of this mission, OHB Italia played a significant role starting from the initial technology development phases, back in 2001, which were carried out within the framework of ESA’s Technology Research Program (TRP) and culminated in November 2014 with the delivery of the inertial sensors. The inertial sensor successfully developed by OHB Italia, constitutes the heart of the high-precision metrology required for the observatory. It is the most sensitive inertial sensor ever manufactured enabling the detection and measurement of the extremely small movements induced by a passing gravitational wave. Furthermore, OHB Italia has subsequently provided a significant support to ESA instrument operations.
On July 18th, a last command has been sent to conclude LISA Pathfinder’s pioneering mission. The door is now open for future missions and ESA’s Science Programme Committee selected the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA), a space-based observatory of gravitational waves consisting of a constellation of three spacecraft, with launch planned for 2034.