Massive Space Mission to Test Einstein Theory

Three ships to fire lasers at each other near sun
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2010 1:04 PM CDT
Gravitational waves are seen expanding out from a new black hole in this computer simulation of the death of a star.   (Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics)

(Newser) – NASA and the European Space Agency are preparing to shoot three spacecraft into orbit around the sun and have them fire laser beams at each other, in an attempt to detect gravitational waves—the last unproven piece of Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. They're calling the whole thing the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, and it'll be the biggest scientific instrument ever built, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Einstein theorized that when huge objects like black holes collide they'd generate gravitational waves—tiny ripples in time and space. Until now, they've been too weak to measure, but the agencies think they've engineered a way around it. Each ship will contain floating gold platinum cubes, and the lasers will measure the changes in distance between them. The mission is expected to launch in 2020.

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