Two future missions in ESA’s space science programme will investigate some of the most extreme phenomena in the Universe: Athena, the Advanced Telescope for High-ENergy Astrophysics, and LISA, the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna. Currently in the study phase, both missions are scheduled for launch in the early 2030s.
Athena will be the largest X-ray observatory ever built, investigating some of the hottest and most energetic phenomena in the cosmos with unprecedented accuracy and depth.
Meanwhile, LISA will be the first space-borne observatory of gravitational waves – fluctuations in the fabric of spacetime produced by the acceleration of cosmic objects with very strong gravity fields, like pairs of merging black holes.
More information: A unique experiment to explore black holes
On Earth, we deal with gravity every day. We feel it, we fight it, and – more importantly – we investigate it. Space agencies such as ESA routinely launch spacecraft against our planet’s gravity, and sometimes these spacecraft borrow the gravity of Earth or other planets to reach interesting places in the Solar System. We study the gravity field of Earth from orbit, and fly experiments on parabolic flights, sounding rockets and the International Space Station to examine a variety of systems under different gravitational conditions. On the grandest scales, our space science missions explore how gravity affects planets, stars and galaxies across the cosmos and probe how matter behaves in the strong gravitational field created by some of the Universe’s most extreme objects like black holes. Join the conversation online this week following the hashtag #GravityRules