LISA Pathfinder – top view
This artist’s impression of LISA Pathfinder shows its solar array and science module, viewed from above.
The solar array is the grid of small panels adorning the top of the spacecraft. This array provides the spacecraft’s instruments with power from sunlight, and acts as a thermal shield for the sensitive payload. The three Sun sensors work together to ensure that the array is constantly facing the Sun.
The white and gold coloured structure beneath the solar array is the spacecraft’s science module (covered in multi-layer insulation), which contains LISA Pathfinder’s payload and support systems. The small appendages seen on the outside of the module on the left are micronewton thrusters, which continually apply miniscule amounts of force to move the spacecraft and keep it centred on the master test mass. The appendage on the right is the omni-directional low-gain antenna.