Author(s): , , , , ,
Institution(s): 1. University of Florida
A LISA-like gravitational wave observatory is the choice candidate for ESA's L3 large mission scheduled to launch in 2034. The LISA Test Package (LTP) mission will launch later this year and test many critical technologies needed for such an observatory, among which are picometer interferometry in space and UV charge management of the Test Mass (TM). The design of these subsystems has been frozen many years ago during the final formulation of the LTP mission; since then, the LISA mission concept has evolved and new technologies have become available, making it possible to re-think the way these subsystem are implemented. With the final formulation of the L3 mission still years in the future and the LTP results expected in about one year, now is an ideal time look for areas of possible improvement and explore alternative implementations that can enhance performance, reduce costs or mitigate risks.
Recently developed UV LED are lighter, cheaper and more powerful than traditional mercury lamps; in addition, their fast response time can be used to implement AC discharge techniques that can save even more space and power, and provide a more precise control of the charge.
The most recent iteration of the mission baseline design allows for eliminating some of the optical components initially deemed essential; paired with the use of polarization multiplexing, this permits a redesign of the optical bench that simplifies the layout and enables a modular approach to machining and assembly, thus reducing the risks and costs associated with the current monolithic design without compromising the picometer stability of the optical path.
Leveraging on extensive previous experience with LISA interferometry and the availability of a torsion pendulum-based LISA test-bed, the University of Florida LISA group is working at developing, demonstrating and optimizing both these technologies. I will describe the most recent advancements and results.