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The Science Case for LISA Pathfinder

The Science Case for LISA Pathfinder

Publication date: 23 January 2007

Authors: LISA Pathfinder Science Working Team

Page: 1-25
Year: 2007

Copyright: ESA

The project science team has revisited the science case for LISA Pathfinder and produced this document on the scientific and technological goals of the mission. Abstract: LISA Pathfinder is an experiment to demonstrate Einstein's geodesic motion in space more than two orders of magnitude better than any past, present, or planned experiment, except for LISA. The concept that a particle falling under the influence of gravity alone follows a geodesic in spacetime is at the foundation of general relativity, our best model of gravitation, yet. LISA Pathfinder's experiment concept is to prove geodesic motion by tracking two test-masses nominally in free-fall through laser interferometry with picometre distance resolution. LISA Pathfinder will show that the relative parasitic acceleration between the masses, at frequencies around 1 mHz, is at least two orders of magnitude smaller than the value demonstrated so far or to be demonstrated by any planned mission. LISA Pathfinder hardware has been designed to be transferred directly to LISA. However, it is obvious that many other possibilities are opened by the results of LISA Pathfinder. LISA Pathfinder is a mission both in general relativity and in precision metrology and will open the ground for an entirely new generation of missions not just in general relativity, but in fundamental physics at large and in Earth observation.

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