Detecting Gravitational Waves
Binary stars are the strongest and most predictable sources of gravitational waves. However, these waves can be hard to detect. Waves from binary stars are mostly low frequency waves; this makes their signals hard to separate from the earth’s gravitational field and vibrations in the earth. To avoid this problem, scientists are designing new experiments to detect gravitational waves in space.
The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, LISA, is a detector that will fly in space. The equipment for LISA will go on three spacecraft. The spacecraft will orbit the sun as an equilateral triangle with sides of 5 million km. Each spacecraft will communicate with the other two, enabling LISA to detect both the strength and direction of gravitational waves. LISA is a joint European Space Agency and NASA project and should launch around 2014.