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LPF Mission Journal

LPF Mission

LISA Pathfinder Mission Journal: LPF far exceeds expectations!

LISA Pathfinder gives a green light for LISA

Stefano Vitale (PI) and Karsten Danzmann (Co-PI) after successful release of LPF test mass #2. ©LPF

Milestones and More: Follow LISA Pathfinder mission progress including ESA's LPF Launch Campaign, LPF Mission Operations and the latest behind-the-scenes take on gravitational wave astronomy science and technology in space.

19 July 2017

Good Night, LISA Pathfinder!
LISA Pathfinder has been switched off as planned on the evening of 18th of July, ending the mission which surpassed all expectations.

After 16 months of science measurements an international team deactivated the LISA Pathfinder satellite on the evening of the 18th of July 2017. The gravitational-wave laboratory in space powered down after receiving the last commands in the evening and circles the Sun on a safe parking orbit. LISA Pathfinder has tested key technologies for LISA, the future gravitational-wave observatory in space, and has demonstrated their operative readiness. LISA is scheduled to launch into space in 2034 as an ESA mission and will “listen” to the entire Universe by measuring low-frequency gravitational waves.

Find out more on

03 July 2017

LISA Pathfinder sails toward the Sun
LISA Pathfinder is ready for a new – and final – journey to the Sun!
On 18 July, the LPF mission will conclude with the final commands sent to switch off the on-board transmitter. Since April, the mission operations team in Darmstadt have been working to ensure a safe and smooth end-of-life for this fantastic technology demonstration spacecraft.

The skinny
What: LISA Pathfinder end of mission
Where: Starting at Lagrange point L1 (1.5 M km from Earth) and ending up on safe, solar ‘disposal’ orbit around the Sun
When: Final commands sent 18 July 2017 about 20:00 CEST
How: Final commands sent via ESA’s 35m deep-space antenna in Cebreros, Spain
Why: End of extended mission. All technology demonstration objectives achieved
Who: Mission control team at ESA/ESOC, Darmstadt, Germany, supported by experts from flight dynamics, ground systems and ground stations

Read more:


30 June 2017

LISA Pathfinder – not resting on its laurels
The success of LISA Pathfinder came at a time of transformation for gravitational wave science and has hastened the development of a new LISA mission. The original LISA – a gravitational wave observatory – missed out on selection as ESA's first large-class (L1) mission, and lost backing from NASA in cutbacks. Fast-forward five years and everything is different; LISA has been selected for a 2034 launch slot, and gravitational wave detection is a reality. The direct detection of gravitational waves on Earth by the LIGO-Virgo consortium confirmed that the era of a new astronomy is almost with us.

In this article, Paul McNamara, LISA Pathfinder Project Scientist, reflects on some of the highlights of the mission:

02 June 2017

New Movies: The path to LISA - LISA Pathfinder Operations
LPF went online in March and, since then, performed spectacularly, far exceeding all expectations. LISA Pathfinder created the quietest place known to humankind, demonstrating that the technology onboard is a perfect option to measure gravitational waves in outer space.

LISA Pathfinder Operations: commissioning and operations

LISA Pathfinder Operations: New Science

LISA Pathfinder Operations: At home at ESOC

29 April 2017

LISA Pathfinder enters the final operations phase
Following the de-orbiting burn, in which LISA Pathfinder was pushed into an orbit which ensures it can not return to the Earth-Moon system within the next one hundred years, the final operations program of the LISA Technology Package began. In the last few weeks leading up to the switch off of the satellite, LISA Pathfinder will continue to make low noise measurements of the free-falling test masses at different operating temperatures to further consolidate the physical description of the system. As well as these long measurements, a number of shorter dedicated measurements will be made to conclude the characterisation of all the different sub-systems. On the 1st of July, the last of the science operations commands will be sent to the satellite. 


17 April 2017

NASA Team Explores Using LISA Pathfinder as a 'Comet Crumb' Detector
LISA Pathfinder, a mission led by the European Space Agency (ESA) with contributions from NASA, has successfully demonstrated critical technologies needed to build a space-based observatory for detecting ripples in space-time called gravitational waves. Now a team of NASA scientists hopes to take advantage of the spacecraft's record-breaking sensitivity to map out the distribution of tiny dust particles shed by asteroids and comets far from Earth.

Read more:

13 December 2016

LISA Pathfinder's pioneering mission continues: Mission gets a six month extension
On 7 December, LISA Pathfinder started the extended phase of its mission, an additional six months during which scientists and engineers will push the experiment to its limits in preparation for ESA's future space observatory of gravitational waves.
During the extended mission of LISA Pathfinder, the team will run a series of long duration experiments to better characterise the mission performance especially at the lowest frequencies that will be probed by the future observatory.

Read more:

16 November 2016

NASA Microthrusters Achieve Success on ESA's LISA Pathfinder
A next-generation technology demonstration mission has just passed a big milestone.
The Space Technology 7 Disturbance Reduction System (ST7-DRS) is a system of thrusters, advanced avionics and software managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. It has been flying on the European Space Agency's LISA Pathfinder spacecraft, which launched from Kourou, French Guiana on Dec. 3, 2015 GMT (Dec. 2 PST). As of Oct. 17, the system had logged roughly 1,400 hours of in-flight operations and met 100 percent of its mission goals.

Read more:

25 October 2016

Next step towards a gravitational-wave observatory in space
ESA has invited European scientists to propose concepts for the third large mission in its science programme, to study the gravitational Universe.

Read more:

07 October 2016

The LISA Pathfinder Science Archive is online
Today, ESA's LISA Pathfinder Science Archive opens its virtual gates to the world. It contains data collected by the satellite during the mission's first few months, covering the nominal operations phase of the LISA Technology Package (LTP) – the European payload on LISA Pathfinder.

Read more:

15 August 2016

U.S. National Academies Report recommends NASA restore support for LISA
New Worlds New Horizons: A Midterm Assessment – the National Academies released their midterm assessment of the Astrophysics Decadal Survey in Washinton DC on 15 August 2016.

Read more:

24 June 2016

LISA Pathfinder completes first operations phase
ESA: LISA Pathfinder completes first operations phase on 25 June and will continue operations on 1 November for seven months to further investigate the performance of the LTP at low frequencies.
On Saturday 25 June, the LISA Technology Package (LTP) – a European payload on ESA's LISA Pathfinder – completes its nominal operations phase, passing the baton to the Disturbance Reduction System, an additional experiment provided by NASA. This won't be the last time the European experiment is run – the recently approved mission extension will see the LTP back in action for seven months starting in November this year.

Read More

07 June 2016

We have created the quietest place known to humankind!
The ESA satellite mission LISA Pathfinder has successfully demonstrated the technology for a gravitational wave observatory in space such as LISA.

After a picture perfect start, a journey to its destination some 1.5 million kilometers from Earth towards the Sun, and a successful release of the test masses, LISA Pathfinder began its job as a space laboratory on 1 March. Now scientists presented the results form the first two months of operations.

“LISA Pathfinder's performance is spectacular and exceeds all our expectations by far,” says Prof. Karsten Danzmann, director at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute, AEI) and director of the Institute for Gravitational Physics at Leibniz Universität Hannover, who also is the Co-Principal Investigator of the LISA Technology Package.

The results show that the two test masses at the heart of the spacecraft are falling freely through space under the influence of gravity alone. They are unperturbed by other external forces, to a precision more than five times better than originally required.

The LISA Pathfinder team presents the results in a paper published today in Physical Review Letters. Among the authors are 20 researchers from the Albert Einstein Institute and Leibniz Universität Hannover. The team shows that the test masses are almost motionless with respect to each other, with a relative acceleration lower than 1 part in ten millionths of a billionth of Earth's gravitational acceleration. This corresponds to the weight of a virus on Earth!


08 March 2016

LISA Pathfinder begins science mission
After completing a long series of tests on the spacecraft and payload, the ESA mission LISA Pathfinder has started its science mission. Over the next six months it will conduct hundreds of experiments to pave the way for future space-borne gravitational-wave observatories like LISA. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) and the Institute for Gravitational Physics of Leibniz Universität Hannover are leading mission partners.


“We are now just starting the second week of the LISA Pathfinder science operations. We are absolutely thrilled by how well our first set of experiments went,” says Prof. Karsten Danzmann, director at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics and director of the Institute for Gravitational Physics at Leibniz Universität Hannover, who also is the Co-Principal Investigator of the LISA Technology Package. “For the next weeks we have a tight schedule of experiments to run on the satellite, which will ultimately show that we can build a full-scale gravitational-wave observatory in space.”

Find out more about the LPF science mission at ESA:
Follow LISA Pathfinder on Twitter:


01 March 2016
LISA Pathfinder ready to start its scientific mission

From 1 March, the science team, some of whom are pictured here, are based at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany. There, the scientists are working closely with the spacecraft engineers to run experiments on this outstanding physics laboratory in space.

Read more:
Follow LISA Pathfinder on Twitter:


24 February 2016
Freefall achieved on LISA Pathfinder
Lisa Pathfinder operating in space


On Monday, the two cubes housed in the core of ESA's LISA Pathfinder were left to move under the effect of gravity alone – another milestone towards demonstrating technologies to observe gravitational waves from space.

Read more:
Follow LISA Pathfinder on Twitter:


16 February 2016
LISA Pathfinder has released both test masses!
ESA’s LISA Pathfinder has released both of its gold–platinum cubes, and will shortly begin its demanding science mission, placing these test masses in the most precise freefall ever obtained to demonstrate technologies for observing gravitational waves from space.

Read more:
Follow LISA Pathfinder on Twitter:


15 February 2016
LISA Pathfinder test mass #2 successfully released and under control!
Only days after LIGO announces the first direct observation of gravitational waves, LISA Pathfinder continues to blaze the trail towards gravitational wave observation in space with the successful release of the first LPF test mass. The test mass is now in full free-flight and controlled in Accelerometer mode.

Read more and follow LPF on


03 February 2016
First locks released from LISA Pathfinder's cubes
Today, the lock fingers that kept the two test masses on LISA Pathfinder secure during the launch and cruise phase were successfully unlocked. As planned, the two cubes are still attached to the spacecraft via an additional mechanism that will hold them in place until mid February, as the teams carry on with the spacecraft and payload commissioning.

Tests on LISA Pathfinder are proceeding on schedule. The spacecraft completed its six-week journey in space, reaching its operational location in orbit around the Lagrange point L1 on 22 January 2016.



28 January 2016
Interesting timelapse of launch preparations


22 January 2016
LISA Pathfinder arrives at L1
After a six-week journey, LISA Pathfinder arrived at its destination today, an orbit around a point of balance in space where it will soon start testing technologies crucial for exploring the gravitational Universe.

LISA Pathfinder is testing the key elements that could be used for a future mission to detect gravitational waves – ripples in spacetime predicted by Albert Einstein in his General Theory of Relativity.To this end, it will release two test masses into near-perfect free fall and measure their motion with unprecedented accuracy.



13 January 2016
Laser light for LISA Pathfinder - First science payload successfully tested
Mission scientist have successfully switched on and tested the first science payload systems. Between January 11 and 13, 2016, important science payload components – the laser system, the data management unit and several inertial sensor systems – have been successfully switched on and their operability has been confirmed.

“I am very happy and content that the first test went so well. These are the first steps on the way to the unique space laboratory we will soon have with LISA Pathfinder,” says Prof. Dr. Karsten Danzmann, director at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) in Hannover and professor at Leibniz Universität Hannover. He is the Co-Principal Investigator of the LISA Pathfinder Technology Package, the satellite's scientific heart. “Using LISA Pathfinder we will demonstrate key technologies for gravitational-wave detection in space and pave the way for LISA.”

Read more at the Albert Einstein Institute:


12 December 2015
LISA Pathfinder now enroute to L1!
LISAPathfinder's last orbit-raising engine burn complete at 06:18CET. The burn put LPF onto free-drift transfer orbit to Lagrange Point L1.
Follow LISA Pathfinder Twitter @esaoperations


10 December 2015
Getting to where we want to go: LISA Pathfinder's journey
An excellent source of information on LISA Pathfinder is ESA's Rocket Science Blog.
Follow LISA Pathfinder mission progress on:
rocket science blog: news from the edge of gravity.


8 December 2015
Next apogee-raising burn set for tonight 22:02CET
The @ESA_LPF apogee raising burn today will be the fourth out of six. The last two will follow on Dec 10 and 12.
Read more on LISA Mission twitter account

8 December 2015
Next apogee-raising burn set for tonight 22:02CET
LISA Pathfinder Spacecraft Operations Manager Ian Harrison Monday reporting on the results of the Nos. 2 and 3 apogee-raising engine burns (referred to as 'ARM' for 'apogee-raising manoeuvre' by the team).

8 December 2015
LISA Pathfinder now above radiation belt
The first three apogee-raising engine burns were successful. Only three more to go!
Follow LISA Pathfinder @ESA_LPF

7 December 2015
First orbit-raising maneuver successful
1 down, 5 to go: first #LisaPathfinder orbit-raising thruster burn completed at 06:30CET as planned. Enroute to #L1!
Follow LISA Pathfinder mission progress @esaoperations

3 December 2015 4:04 GMT
LISA Pathfinder launch successful!
LISA Pathfinder lifted off from Kourou on a Vega rocket at 04:04 GMT and is now in  low-Earth orbit.

Update 2 December 2015 18:00
New launch set for 3 December
ESA announces a new launch time. LISA Pathfinder will lift off on VV06 at 4:04 GMT. Read the ESA announcement here!

Get LISA Pathfinder updates and live stream links on

Update 1 December 2015
Launch postponed
Due to a technical issue with the Vega launcher, the LISA Pathfinder lift-off was delayed. ESA’s LISA Pathfinder spacecraft is in stable and safe conditions and the launcher teams are currently working on this technical issue. Read more:

Official ESA announcement

Spaceflight Now


1 December 2015
LISA Pathfinder has a ticket to ride!
Update from Kourou: Vega launch readiness review completed for . We are GREEN for launch 2 December! Follow mission development on:

ESA Operations


27 November 2015
LISA Pathfinder overview page now online!
Follow events and updates on the new web page. All events, all updates, all livestreams!


23 November 2015
LISA Pathfinder launch live stream
ESA will cover the launch live on from 03:50 GMT (04:50 CET) and the Press briefing from 05:45 GMT (06:45 CET).
Subscribe to


18 November 2015
LISA Pathfinder current status: Hoisting LISA Pathfinder to the top

The upper composite of the Vega launcher, carrying LISA Pathfinder, being hoisted up to the top of the mobile gantry, in the launcher assembly area, at the Vega launch pad of Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on 18 November 2015.

 Images of the integration of the "egg" onto the rocket.
Follow LISA Pathfinder on Twitter @esa_lpf


18 November 2015
#4: Hidden from view

With only fourteen days to go until the launch of LISA Pathfinder on 2 December, preparations continue according to plan, and this week has seen another two major milestones passed: fitting the launch vehicle adapter to the spacecraft, and enclosing the spacecraft in the fairing. Read more on the ESA's LPF launch campaign webpage!


15 November 2015
LISA Pathfinder officially handed over to ESA
A new video by Airbus highlights development work on one of the most challenging science missions in space to date: LISA Pathfinder. LISA Pathfinder is scheduled to launch in a few weeks from ESA spaceport Kourou.

See the video here:


12 November 2015
LISA Pathfinder Mission overview

Check out this video to find out what LISA Pathfinder is all about:


5 November 2015
LISA Pathfinder current status

Oxidiser fueling is now complete. The next step is the hydrazine fueling.
Follow ESA LPF on twitter:


29 October 2015 11:19
#3: ESOC, do you copy?

For the past week and a half, the high bay, a large integration hall in the south side of the payload integration building (EPCU S5C), at the Centre Spatial Guyanais in Kourou has been buzzing with activities around the LISA Pathfinder spacecraft.
Read more on ESA's LPF Launch Campaign website


15 October 2015 17:49
#2: Fasten your belts!

During the first week of activities at Kourou, the LISA Pathfinder team have focused on setting up the hardware they need for the launch campaign.
Read more on ESA's LPF Launch Campaign website


09 October 2015 21:05
#1: Arriving in Kourou
This is the first entry in the LISA Pathfinder launch campaign journal series. Between now and launch, the LISA Pathfinder team at Kourou will share their experiences as they prepare for that big event. Today's contribution is from the project manager, César García Marirrodriga.
Read more on ESA's LPF Launch Campaign website


08 October 2015
LISA Pathfinder arrives at launch site

©Joseph Huesler, ESA

LISA Pathfinder arrived at Kourou in French Guiana on the morning of 8th October. The launch of LPF is scheduled for 2nd December 2015. The spacecraft will be launched by a VEGA rocket on Arianespaceflight VV06 from Kourou, French Guiana, and will be placed into a slightly elliptical parking orbit. From there, it will use its own propulsion module to reach its final operational orbit, a 500 000 km by 800 000 km Lissajous orbit around the first Sun-Earth Lagrange point, at 1.5 million kilometres from Earth, where the gravitational gradients are very low. After the last transfer burn is performed, and the health of the science spacecraft is ascertained, the propulsion module will be jettisoned, then further commissioning will be performed to prepare the spacecraft and payloads for science operations. LPF's operational phase will last six months, with possible extensions.
Read more on ESA's LPF website


07 October 2015
Location: European Space Operations Centre (ESOC), Darmstadt, Germany
The LISA Pathfinder Flight Control Team (FCT) began training intensively for the launch and early orbit phase (LEOP), commissioning and routine mission phases in June 2015 after many years of mission preparation. This image shows the team in a simulation training session in the Main Control Room at ESA/ESOC, Darmstadt, Germany, 7 October 2015.
Read more on ESA's LPF website


03 September 2015
The satellite is completed

 © Airbus DS

The highly sensitive scientific payload was integrated into the satellite in the last weeks, followed by last function and environment tests. The propulsion module and the launch vehicle adapter were also installed. Now shipment to ESA spaceport Kourou/French Guayana is imminent. From there, the mission will lift off in late autumn on a Vega launcher. Read more


23 June 2015
Science payload completed and integrated into the satellite

© Airbus DS

After more than 10 years of intense development, the highly sensitive scientific payload of the LISA Pathfinder Mission (LPF) was now completed and integrated into the satellite. The science instruments are the core of the mission. Read more

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