LISA Pathfinder

Both LPF test mass released successfully!

Paving the way for LISA with LISA Pathfinder

LISA Pathfinder lift-off on VV06. ©ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2015

LISA Pathfinder lift-off on Vega VV06

LISA Pathfinder paves the way for the LISA mission by testing in space the very concept of gravitational wave detection.

The quietest place in the solar system
LPF launched successfully on 3rd December 2015 at 4:04 GMT.

LISA Pathfinder (LPF) placed two test masses in a nearly perfect gravitational free-fall, and controls and measures their relative motion with unprecedented accuracy. This is achieved through innovative technologies comprising inertial sensors, an optical metrology system, a drag-free control system and micro-Newton thruster system. The test-masses and their environment are the quietest place in the solar system.

All these technologies are not only essential for LISA, they also lie at the heart of any future space-based test of Einstein's General Relativity.



08 March 2016
LISA Pathfinder begins science mission!

After completing a long series of tests on the spacecraft and payload, the ESA mission LISA Pathfinder has started its science mission. Over the next six months it will conduct hundreds of experiments to pave the way for future space-borne gravitational-wave observatories like LISA. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) and the Institute for Gravitational Physics of Leibniz Universität Hannover are leading mission partners.

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16 February 2016
LISA Pathfinder has released both test masses!
ESA’s LISA Pathfinder has released both of its gold–platinum cubes, and will shortly begin its demanding science mission, placing these test masses in the most precise freefall ever obtained to demonstrate technologies for observing gravitational waves from space.

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15 February 2016
LISA Pathfinder test mass #2 successfully released and under control!
Only days after LIGO announces the first direct observation of gravitational waves, LISA Pathfinder continues to blaze the trail towards gravitational wave observation in space with the successful release of the first LPF test mass. The test mass is now in full free-flight and controlled in Accelerometer mode.

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January 22nd, 2016
LISA Pathfinder reaches Lagrange Point 1
After a six-week journey, LISA Pathfinder arrived at its destination today, an orbit around a point of balance in space where it will soon start testing technologies crucial for exploring the gravitational Universe.

December 3, 2015
LISA Pathfinder launch successful
The LISA Pathfinder mission got underway with a successful launch from the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on 3rd December 2015 at 4:04 GMT. The European Space Control Center ESOC in Darmstadt, Germany established contact with the satellite a short time later. All systems are nominal and the LISA Pathfinder spacecraft is now in it's transfer orbit. In the next days, LISA Pathfinder will initiate a series of low-earth orbital maneuvers with it's own propulsion module to achieve the velocity necessary to reach the operational orbit around Lagrange Point L1.

June 23, 2014
LISA Pathfinder: Science payload completed and integrated into the satellite
After more than 10 years of intense development, the highly sensitive scientific payload of the LISA Pathfinder Mission (LPF) was completed and integrated into the satellite. The science instruments are the core of the mission. Read more

November 11, 2014
Inertial sensors of the LISA Pathfinder mission delivered
The inertial sensors are key elements of LISA Pathfinder. They were delivered in Milan on 3rd November 2014 during a ceremony at the headquarters of the Italian producer, Compagnia Generale dello Spazio (CGS spa). The Inertial Sensors received funding from the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and were designed by scientists from the University of Trento, supported by the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN). Read more


Martin Hewitson

Albert Einstein Institute Hannover

Susanne Milde

Milde Science Communication

Attached Images

LPF - Scottish Team at Astrium

Optical bench delivered to Astrium Friedrichshafen.

Successful launch of LISA Pathfinder on VV06

LISA Pathfinder lifting off on VV06.

LPF - Flight Optical Bench

The Flight Optical Bench ready for integration into the LISA Pathfinder Technology Package.

LISA Pathfinder fitted to the Vega launcher

Vega VV06 upper composite, carrying LISA Pathfinder, being integrated with the launcher, at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on 18 November 2015.

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