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NASA Taps Ball Aerospace to Deliver Laser Prestabilization System for Gravitational Wave Detector

Space exploration


NASA Taps Ball Aerospace to Deliver Laser Prestabilization System for Gravitational Wave Detector

Ball Aerospace & Technology will supply the laser prestabilization system for the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna laser assembly under an $11.9 million contract from NASA. The product will be among the space agency’s contributions to the LISA mission, which aims to detect and study gravitational waves emanating from spacetime distortions to discover other parts of the universe and gain more knowledge about its beginning, evolution and structure. Work under the contract will be performed at the company’s facility in Boulder, Colorado, until April 1, 2025, NASA said.

The European Space Agency, NASA and an international group of scientists are working together on the program and aim to launch LISA in 2035. The mission will deploy three satellites that will continuously beam lasers to detect gravitational wave signatures. They will be positioned millions of miles apart in a triangular formation.

A technology to detect gravitational waves already exists on the ground. The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, funded by the National Science Foundation and operated by the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, houses detectors that use laser interferometry to measure the minute ripples in spacetime resulting from gravitational waves from cosmic events such as supermassive black hole mergers or collisions between two black holes.

LISA, which will be the first space-based gravitational wave detector, is expected to boost research efforts on such distortions. Compared to LIGO, the antenna will sense gravitational waves with longer wavelengths.

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Category: Space