07/10/2015 7:17 pm
The two gold cubes, enclosed in vacuum containers (shown here without the launch lock mechanism), are key to the LISA Pathfinder mission. Each of these electrode containers houses a gold-platinum test mass. LISA Pathfinder will monitor the two cubes as they enter free-fall motion using a high-precision laser interferometer.
The optical bench interferometer is shown between the two masses. This instrument is made from a 20 cm by 20 cm block of Zerodur ceramic glass, and has a set of 22 mirrors and beam-splitters bonded to its surface that direct laser beams. These beams will allow scientists to precisely measure the cubes' motion, position, and orientation without touching them. In this way, LISA Pathfinder will perform the first high-precision laser interferometric tracking of orbiting bodies in space.
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