European Space Agency (Esa) member states have decided to select a mission to Jupiter and its icy moons as their next great venture.
Juice, as the spacecraft is currently known, will leave Earth in 2022 on a long journey that should see it returning science from the outer Solar System in the 2030s.
The champagne corks will be popping in the planetary science community, but there’ll be a sense of deflation in those disciplines that had their projects overlooked this time.
I’ve already considered the consequences for high-energy astronomy and the rejection of the Athena X-ray telescope concept. And so for this posting, I want to look at the other big loser in the competition – the mission that would seek to detect gravitational waves in space.
If everybody’s second favourite football team is Barcelona then perhaps the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (Lisa) is everyone’s second favourite space mission.
Time and again over the past few years I’ve been told “if my mission isn’t selected, I hope Lisa wins”.
Gravitational waves are an inevitable consequence of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. They describe the disturbance in space-time resulting from an accelerating body. Extreme events such as exploding stars and merging black holes should send gravitational energy radiating outwards at the speed of light.
Unlike electromagnetic waves – the light seen by traditional telescopes – gravitational waves are extremely weak, and that makes them very hard to detect.
If one were to pass through your body it should simultaneously stretch your space in one direction whilst squashing it in a direction that is at right angles…..
Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk