Blast Off In Search For Ripples In Space

Blast Off In Search For Ripples In Space

The European Space Agency (ESA) has launched a rocket carrying two cubes of gold & platinum which scientists hope will assist them test one of Einstein's key theories.

The £300m Lisa Pathfinder probe was launched from the agency's base in South America on Thursday carrying the identical pair of cubes.

By mid-January, it will have reached an orbit approximately 1.5 million kilometers (930,000 miles) from Earth, where the pull from the planet's gravity is balanced by that of the sun.

Once there, it will collect data for six months that scientists hope will reveal gravitational waves.

"The mission will put these cubes in the purest free-fall ever produced in space & monitor their relative positions to astonishing precision," the space agency said.

Scientists will use a laser capable of detecting movements of less than 10 millionths of a millionth of a metre.

If the experiment is successful, it could lead to a second space probe aimed at testing so-called "gravitational waves" – a phenomenon first predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago yet which have never been directly detected.

Gravitational waves are ripples in space time caused by black holes & other massive objects lurking unseen in dark corners of the galaxy.

"It's probably the most challenging mission we're doing in the science program, because the precision by which you need to measure the test mass position is very, very high," the ESA's Arvind Parmar said.

Further scientific advances will need to be made over the next decade before a decision is made whether to launch the next mission, tentatively scheduled for launch in 2034.

Source: “Sky News”