LISA Pathfinder, ESA’s technology demonstrator for detecting gravitational-waves, is set for launch on 2 December at 04:15 GMT (05:15 CET) on a Vega rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Media representatives can follow the launch online and attend the event in ESA’s operations centre, ESOC, in Darmstadt, Germany.
LISA Pathfinder will help to open up a completely new observational window into the gravitational Universe, by testing new technologies needed to measure gravitational waves in space. Predicted by Albert Einstein, these waves are ripples in the curvature of spacetime produced by massive celestial events, such as the merging of black holes.
Detecting gravitational waves would also be an additional confirmation of General Relativity, and greatly enhance our knowledge of the most powerful phenomena in the Universe.
Learn more about LISA Pathfinder at: http://sci.esa.int/lisapf
Launch event in Europe
Media are invited to join scientists, mission operators and engineers from the LISA Pathfinder team at a briefing in ESOC starting at 05:30 GMT (06:30 CET). The briefing will include the spacecraft’s separation from Vega, as well as the acquisition of the signal that confirms arrival in low orbit.
Following a series of six orbit-raising manoeuvres within two weeks of launch, the spacecraft will journey for six weeks to its operating orbit around the Sun–Earth L1 Lagrange point, some 1.5 million km from Earth in a sunward direction.
Programme outline at ESOC
(all times in CET, event will be held in the Press Centre, building H)
06:30 Doors to ESOC open
06:45 Start of press briefing
“Introduction to LISA Pathfinder, launcher separation and acquisition of signal” - Paolo Ferri, Head of ESA Operations, and Arvind Parmar, Head of ESA Scientific Support Office
07:00 Spacecraft separation from launcher expected
07:02 Acquisition of signal expected.
Continuation of the press briefing
“The journey to L1” - Florian Renk, LISA Pathfinder Mission Analyst, ESA
“Why do we need to investigate the Gravitational Universe?” -Oliver Jennrich, LISA Pathfinder Deputy Mission Scientist, ESA
“How will LISA Pathfinder test the technology to measure gravitational waves?” - William Weber, LISA Pathfinder scientist, University of Trento
“What will LISA Pathfinder do in the coming months?” - Martin Hewitson, LISA Pathfinder scientist, Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute)
“Industrial and technological challenges of LISA Pathfinder” - Eckhard Settelmeyer, Director Earth Observation, Navigation and Science, Airbus DS
08:00 Question and Answer session
08:10 Individual interviews with programme speakers; joint breakfast for media and speakers
09:00 End of event
For accreditation, media can register at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please register by 27 November.
How to get to ESOC: http://www.esa.int/About_Us/ESOC/Getting_to_ESOC
ESA will cover the launch live on www.esa.int from 03:50 GMT (04:50 CET) and the Press briefing from 05:45 GMT (06:45 CET).
Subscribe to http://livestream.com/ESA/
In cooperation with Arianespace, ESA TV will provide broadcasters with live satellite relay of the launch. Several stories have also been prepared on the mission and its technology:
LISA Pathfinder mission overview (13 November)
LISA Pathfinder preparation (23 September and 4 August)
Details at: http://www.esa.int/esatv/Television
More videos at: http://www.esa.int/esatv/Missions/LISA_Pathfinder
For live updates throughout the launch period, follow @esaoperations, @ESA_LPF and @ESA. The official hashtag is #LISAPathfinder.
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About the European Space Agency
The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space.
ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.
ESA has 22 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 20 are Member States of the EU.
ESA has established formal cooperation with seven other Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.
By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. It is working in particular with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.
ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.
Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.
Learn more about ESA at www.esa.int
For further information, please contact:
ESA Media Relations Office
Tel: +33 1 53 69 72 99