LISA Pathfinder (formerly known as SMART 2) is scheduled for launch on 2nd December 2015. It is a joint ESA/NASA mission intended to demonstrate the key technologies required for the future LISA (Laser Interferometry Space Antenna) mission. LISA aims to detect gravitational waves generated by very massive objects undergoing strong acceleration, such as black holes.
LISA Pathfinder's payload comprises of two elements, the LISA Technology Package (LTP) and the Disturbance Reduction System (DRS). Both will test the key technology of drag-free control by means of proof masses.
LISA Pathfinder will pave the way for the LISA mission by testing in flight the concept of the gravitational wave detection. It will test the feasibility of laser interferometry at the accuracy level envisaged for LISA and test the endurance of the different instruments and hardware in the space environment.
The UK has a strong and respected position within the worldwide gravitational wave community and is a major participant in the LISA Pathfinder mission, with responsibility for three out of the seven major subsystems on the LISA Technology Package (LTP) payload. This work is centred at Imperial College, the University of Glasgow and University of Birmingham.