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Albert Einstein Institute & Leibniz University

LISA Mission

Albert Einstein Institute

Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) & Leibniz Universität Hannover

The Albert Einstein Institute in the Callinstraße, Hannover. Credit: Benjamin Knispel

AEI Hannover, Germany

In Hannover, the Max Planck Society and Leibniz Universität Hannover jointly carry out experimental gravitational wave research at the Centre for Gravitational Physics – the Albert Einstein Institute Hannover. This includes basic research as well as applied research in the fields of laser physics, vacuum technology, vibration isolation in addition to classical optics and quantum optics. Other research focuses on the implementation of data analysis algorithms for different sources of gravitational waves.

AEI scientists are involved in all aspects of the development of LISA. Their research ranges from mission design and technology development to theoretical source studies and development of the data analysis procedures. Laboratory investigations at the AEI currently study the details of LISA's interferometry in prototype experiments. Key goals are noise suppression techniques like Time Delay Interferometry and inter-spacecraft data transfer using the interferometry laser beams themselves.

AEI scientists are developing advanced intelligent data analysis software that can identify and separate the overlapping signals expected in the LISA data stream. Other theorists are solving Einstein's equations to develop signal models that can be matched to real signals with accuracies of a few parts per million.

Together with the University of Trento, AEI also has scientific leadership of the LISA Pathfinder (LPF) mission. AEI director Karsten Danzmann is Co-PI of the mission. AEI was the lead institution for the original proposal for LPF, and the mission concept and details of the optical system for LPF have largely been developed there. Currently there is close collaboration between AEI scientists and industry as the flight hardware of the interferometry payload, specified by the scientists and built by industry, is being assembled and tested in the AEI clean room facilities and laboratories.

The AEI also operates the German-British GEO600 gravitational wave detector near Hannover, Germany, is a partner in the American LIGO project, and plays a major role in the analysis of the data from all existing detectors, including the Virgo detector in Italy. The software used in the Einstein@Home radio searches was developed by the AEI to search for gravitational waves from pulsars.

AEI Directors Karsten Danzmann and Bernard Schutz were among the leaders of the original LISA proposal to ESA in 1993, and the AEI has become a focal point for developing the LISA mission in Europe.

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