LAGRANGE: LAser GRavitational-wave ANtenna at GEo-lunar Lagrange points
by Conklin, J. W. and Buchman, S. and Aguero, V. and Alfauwaz, A. and Aljadaan, A. and Almajed, M. and Altwaijry, H. and Al-Saud, T. and Balakrishnan, K. and Byer, R. L. and Bower, K. and Costello, B. and Cutler, G. D. and DeBra, D. B. and Faied, D. M. and Foster, C. and Genova, A. L. and Hanson, J. and Hooper, K. and Hultgren, E. and Jaroux, B. and Klavins, A. and Lantz, B. and Lipa, J. A. and Palmer, A. and Plante, B. and Sanchez, H. S. and Saraf, S. and Schaechter, D. and Sherrill, T. and Smith, E. and Shu, K. -L. and Tenerelli, D. and Vanbezooijen, R. and Vasudevan, G. and Williams, S. D. and Worden, S. P. and Zhou, J. and Zoellner, A.
Comments: 24 pages, to be submitted to Classical and Quantum Gravity
We describe a new space gravitational wave observatory design called LAGRANGE that maintains all important LISA science at about half the cost and with reduced technical risk. It consists of three drag-free spacecraft in the most stable geocentric formation, the Earth-Moon L3, L4, and L5 Lagrange points. Fixed antennas allow continuous contact with the Earth, solving the problem of communications bandwidth and latency. A 70 mm diameter AuPt sphere with a 35 mm gap to its enclosure serves as a single inertial reference per spacecraft, which is operated in “true” drag-free mode (no test mass forcing). This is the core of the Modular Gravitational Reference Sensor whose other advantages are: a simple caging design based on the DISCOS 1972 drag-free mission, an all optical read-out with pm fine and nm coarse sensors, and the extensive technology heritage from the Honeywell gyroscopes, and the DISCOS and Gravity Probe B drag-free sensors. An Interferometric Measurement System, designed with reflective optics and a highly stabilized frequency standard, performs the inter-test mass ranging and requires a single optical bench with one laser per spacecraft. Two 20 cm diameter telescopes per spacecraft, each with in-field pointing, incorporate novel technology developed for advanced optical systems by Lockheed Martin, who also designed the spacecraft based on a multi-flight proven bus structure. Additional technological advancements include the drag-free propulsion, thermal control, charge management systems, and materials. LAGRANGE sub-systems are designed to be scalable and modular, making them interchangeable with those of LISA or other gravitational science missions. We plan to space qualify critical technologies on small and nano satellite flights, with the first launch (UV-LED Sat) in 2013.