Due to the recent adjustment in how L-class missions within the Cosmic Vision framework are chosen, ESA is currently investigating a design for a European-led variant of LISA that can be launched before 2022.
After studying several configurations, a new baseline has been identified that will be refined in the coming month with the help of European industry. The new baseline simplifies the design of LISA, reducing the distance between the satellites and employing only four instead of previously six laser links.
The science team and a science task force, composed of members of the gravitational wave and astrophysics communities in both Europe and the US, have assessed the scientific validity of the new baseline for the fields of physics, astrophysics and cosmology and have shown that the new configuration is very promising regarding sources such as galactic binaries, (super)massive black hole and extreme mass ratio inspirals.
Over the next few months, this work will continue until we have a finalised mission proposal by the fall of 2011. The near future is very bright for astrophysics and cosmology using observations of gravitational waves in space.
(Posted on behalf of the team by Bernard Schutz, 21.07.2011)