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What is DECIGO Pathfinder?

DECIGO Pathfinder (DPF) is a spacecraft that will test, in space, the technologies required to realize DECIGO. These technologies include (1) Drag-free spacecraft, (2) Frequency-stabilized laser, and (3) Fabry-Perot cavity control. In addition, DPF can have a role as a scientific mission. DPF could detect gravitational waves coming from the coalescence of intermediate-mass black hole binaries in our galaxy. Also, it could measure the distribution and variation of the gravitational field of the earth. Consequently, DPF is one of the important mission candidates for the small science spacecraft series run by JAXA/ISAS.


Design of DPF

DPF measures the distance between two floating mirrors inside a drag-free spacecraft using a laser interferometer. The two mirrors are controlled to be floating using local sensors and actuators. A tiny change in the distance between the two mirrors caused by gravitational waves will be measured by a Fabry-Perot laser interferometer. The frequency of the laser is stabilized to improve the sensitivity of DPF.