LISA - Laser Interferometer Space Antenna

The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) will be the first space-based gravitational wave observatory. Selected to be ESA's third large-class mission, it will address the science theme of the Gravitational Universe. LISA will consist of three spacecrafts separated by 2.5 million km in a triangular formation, following Earth in its orbit around the Sun. Launch is expected in 2034, after a challenging development phase already on its way.

The Science

LISA will measure Gravitational Waves (GW) from extreme astrophysical phenomena in the low-frequency bandwidth, such as the inspiral of Binary Black Holes and Extreme Mass Ratio Inspirals. LISA will open a new window on the low-frequency GW spectrum that cannot be accessed from Earth because of the terrestrial seismic noise. A space-based GW detector will also allow for joint detection of gravitational signals together with the ground-based detectors of the LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA collaboration as well as multi-messenger science with other large infrastructures such as the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) and the Advanced Telescope for High ENergy Astrophysics (Athena).

The measurable quantity is a change of distance in the order of 10-13 m, for objects that are 2.5 million km apart. Building such observatory in space requires pushing forward the technology that removes any non-gravitational noise from the LISA sensors. The core component for the disturbance rejection is the Gravitational Reference Sensor (GRS), which is part of the Italian contribution to LISA.
Other challenges are linked to the launch loads and the release of the free-falling objects inside the GRS, once in orbit, and the planning of fabrication, testing, assembling and validation of several equal units in time for the expected launch window.
The University of Trento and TIFPA-INFN have been one of the leading teams for the LISA Pathfinder space mission, which paved the way to LISA.


• Involved external institutions: Max Planck Institut (DE), University of Florida (US), Imperial College - London (UK), ETHZ - Zurich (CH), Universidad de Barcellona (ES), ASI (IT), NASA (US), ESA (EU)
• INFN groups: Firenze/Urbino, Roma II, TIFPA
• Principal Investigator: Rita Dolesi - TIFPA-INFN and Università di Trento
• INFN Project: CSN II
• Duration: 2018- 2035


• Local responsible for TIFPA: Rita Dolesi, TIFPA-INFN and Università di Trento
• Involved TIFPA people: Stefano Vitale, Davide Dal Bosco, Valerio Ferroni, Daniele Vetrugno, Antonella Cavalleri, Martina Muratore, Eleonora Castelli, Karine Laurence Frisinghelli, Daniele Bortoluzzi, Davide Vignotto, Francisco Rivas Garcia, Lorenzo Sala, Francesco Dimiccoli, Vittorio Chiavegato, William Weber, Carlo Zanoni.