PIA20196: LISA Pathfinder Spacecraft (Artist's Concept)
 Mission:  LISA Pathfinder  
 Spacecraft:  LISA Pathfinder
 Product Size:  2500 x 1407 pixels (w x h)
 Produced By:  European Space Agency (ESA)
 Full-Res TIFF:  PIA20196.tif (3.944 MB)
 Full-Res JPEG:  PIA20196.jpg (272.9 kB)

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This artist's concept shows ESA's LISA Pathfinder spacecraft, which launched on Dec. 3, 2015, from Kourou, French Guiana, will help pave the way for a mission to detect gravitational waves.

LISA Pathfinder, led by the European Space Agency (ESA), is designed to test technologies that could one day detect gravitational waves. Gravitational waves, predicted by Einstein's theory of general relativity, are ripples in spacetime produced by any accelerating body. But the waves are so weak that Earth- or space-based observatories would likely only be able to directly detect such signals coming from massive astronomical systems, such as binary black holes or exploding stars. Detecting gravitational waves would be an important piece in the puzzle of how our universe began.

LISA Pathfinder is managed by ESA. The spacecraft was built by Airbus Defence and Space, Ltd. (UK). Airbus Defence and Space, GmbH (Germany).

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