Artistic illustration of the LISA mission, whose launch is planned for 2035. Source: ESA
25 January The European Space Agency (ESA) gave the green light to two unique space missions.
The first mission, named LISA – Laser Space Interferometer, was designed to study gravitational waves in space. It is expected that the launch of the mission will take place in 2035 with the help of the Ariane-6 rocket. LISA represents a three-component system of space instruments that will follow the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. These devices form an equilateral triangle in space, where each side will have a length of 2,5 million kilometers. With the help of laser light passed between these instruments, scientists will be able to measure even the smallest distortions caused by gravitational waves. The discovery of these waves represents fundamental importance.
Predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916, gravitational waves are tiny distortions in the structure of space-time, comparable to waves on the surface of a lake. Formed during catastrophic cosmic events, such as the merger of two black holes, they travel through the universe at light speed with virtually no interference. Their existence was confirmed only in 2015. Last year, scientists said they had discovered the first signs of low-frequency gravitational waves, which supposedly continuously penetrate through space, like background noise.
The second mission, EnVision, will launch in 2031 and is aimed at deeper study of Venus. EnVision will be the first mission to directly explore Venus’ atmosphere using radar technology. The main goal of the mission — obtaining valuable new data about the geological activity, climate and history of this planet. By showing such information, EnVision will allow scientists to better understand the processes occurring in the Solar System, and in particular, on Venus.
Both spacecraft will be launched with the Ariane 6 rocket. After several years of delay, the first flight of the rocket is planned for the period from June 15 to July 31 of the current year.