Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by martyb on Friday December 04 2015, @06:30AM   Printer-friendly
from the I-like-ripple-ice-cream dept.

The European Space Agency launched a rocket Thursday carrying two cubes of gold and platinum almost a million miles from Earth so scientists can see how they'll behave in a freefall—at a cost of more than $450 million.

What may sound like a frivolous enterprise is actually the prelude to a far more ambitious mission that hopes to measure ripples in space time caused by black holes and other massive objects lurking unseen in dark corners of the galaxy.

Also known as gravitational waves, these ripples were predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago but have never been directly detected.

In order for that mission—tentatively scheduled for launch in 2034—to succeed, the European Space Agency first has to test whether it can shield objects from external influences well enough to measure the minute effects of gravitational waves.

"We want to see whether we can create an environment in orbit that's free of interference, and where we can conduct these high-precision measurements," said Michael Menking, senior vice president for Earth observation, navigation and science at Airbus Defense and Space. The company is the main technology contractor on the LISA Pathfinder mission.
...
By mid-January, the probe will have reached an orbit about 1.5 million kilometers (930,000 miles) from Earth, where the pull from the planet's gravity is balanced by that of the sun. The cubes—made from gold and platinum to reduce their susceptibility to magnetic fields—are then carefully released inside a box that shields them from cosmic particles and other interference that might affect the measurements performed by a sensitive laser. The laser is capable of detecting movements of less than 10 millionths of a millionth of a meter.


Original Submission

 
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 04 2015, @04:37PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 04 2015, @04:37PM (#271844)

    To create measurable gravity waves, you not only need a large mass, but also a large acceleration. I doubt your mama is able to manage the latter.

  • (Score: 2) by xav on Friday December 04 2015, @10:43PM

    by xav (5579) on Friday December 04 2015, @10:43PM (#271980)

    Just build a large enough catapult.

  • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by Snotnose on Saturday December 05 2015, @12:13AM

    by Snotnose (1623) on Saturday December 05 2015, @12:13AM (#272016)

    I've seen yo momma fart, them ass cheeks move pretty fast.

    --
    The 3 symptoms of laziness: 1) think of something tomorrow 2)