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LISA Pathfinder: Motivation, Instrumentation and Current Status

Timothy will begin with the scientific motivation for LISA Pathfinder (LPF) which rests firmly with the case for putting a gravitational wave observatory in space. LISA was proposed to the European Space Agency (ESA) as such an observatory in the mid-1990s and Timothy will describe the scientific potential of this type of payload as a candidate for the ESA L3 mission. From there he will outline the technology challenges and show how the critical elements of these are addressed by LPF. LPF was launched on 3rd December 2015 from Kourou and has now made its way the first Lagrange point. The scientific payload is being commissioned and by mid-April, it will be well into its scientific measurement campaign. Timothy will review preliminary performance data from the instrument and the space environment it finds itself in, and give a forward look on the remaining mission profile. He will also discuss additional scientific measurements which might be carried out pending feasibility studies.

LISA Pathfinder: The Engineering Challenges 2002-2016

From the industrial engineering perspective LISA Pathfinder began life in 2001 with a proposal team in Stevenage given the task of shoe-horning an embryonic and complex instrument into a robust system design that could be built within specified costs and schedule. Good working relationships, essential for a project of this complexity, were established with the instrument team from Airbus Germany and more than thirty subcontractors from around Europe and the USA. His talk will span the life cycle of the project starting with the myriad of engineering challenges that faced this early team and how these were solved in order to allow the project to enter the detailed design phase and subsequent production. Ian will deal with both the accommodation of the very special needs of the instrument and also the external constraints and environments such as the launch vehicle and space itself. It will then progress through the implementation phase and highlight the several changes of direction and their resolutions that created many new challenges for the project team. He will conclude with the launch campaign and the in-orbit commissioning.

Conferences and Events
18 April 2016