The LISA mission was reported to have been unanimously ranked first by ESA´s scientific review committee in terms of scientific interest, strategic value for science and strategic value for the projects in Europe.
During the decision process for ESA´s next large mission (L1) it was the first time that any space agency committee ranked a gravitational wave observatory as the agency´s highest scientific priority. This, and the support from a large international scientific community left the involved scientists in good spirits: In order to prepare a strongest possible bid for the next launch opportunity they decided to continue their collaboration as the self-funded and independent LISA consortium.
Besides preparing for the next competition the consortium will strongly support ESA's LISA Pathfinder mission, whose launch in 2015 will finally open the door to approval of a full gravitational wave mission.
The LISA consortium consists of a management board, a steering committee, and working groups in science, technology and data analysis. It represents the European states involved in LISA, i.e. Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and UK. The consortium is led by Prof. Dr. Karsten Danzmann, who chaired the former LISA International Science Team and is a director at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute/AEI) and a professor at the Leibniz Universität in Hannover, Germany.
“Our goal is to keep this highly motivated and effective scientific community together. It has attracted many young and excellent researchers. The knowledge and innovative potential of our community is documented in more than 2000 published scientific papers - we want to keep it working on a strong science, technology and data analysis programme”, says Karsten Danzmann, describing the role of the LISA consortium.
Colleagues from the US, China and possibly other interested countries will be invited to participate. At the LISA Symposium, US participants presented results on a comparative study of low-cost LISA variants and expressed interest in contributing to an ESA-led mission. And for the first time, a large Chinese delegation participated in the LISA Symposium and announced their scientific interest in a close collaboration on a gravitational wave mission. The Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Space Agency are developing their own plans for a gravitational wave detector in space.