An atomic gravitational wave interferometric sensor in low earth orbit (AGIS-LEO)

Jason M. Hogan, David M.S. Johnson, Susannah Dickerson, Tim Kovachy, Alex Sugarbaker, Sheng wey Chiow, Peter W. Graham, Mark A. Kasevich, Babak Saif, Surjeet Rajendran, Philippe Bouyer, Bernard D. Seery, Lee Feinberg, Ritva Keski-Kuha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations


We propose an atom interferometer gravitational wave detector in low Earth orbit (AGIS-LEO). Gravitational waves can be observed by comparing a pair of atom interferometers separated by a 30 km baseline. In the proposed configuration, one or three of these interferometer pairs are simultaneously operated through the use of two or three satellites in formation flight. The three satellite configuration allows for the increased suppression of multiple noise sources and for the detection of stochastic gravitational wave signals. The mission will offer a strain sensitivity of < 10-18/√Hz in the 50mHz-10Hz frequency range, providing access to a rich scientific region with substantial discovery potential. This band is not currently addressed with the LIGO, VIRGO, or LISA instruments. We analyze systematic backgrounds that are relevant to the mission and discuss how they can be mitigated at the required levels. Some of these effects do not appear to have been considered previously in the context of atom interferometry, and we therefore expect that our analysis will be broadly relevant to atom interferometric precision measurements. Finally, we present a brief conceptual overview of shorter-baseline (100 m) atom interferometer configurations that could be deployed as proof-of-principle instruments on the International Space Station (AGIS-ISS) or an independent satellite.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1953-2009
Number of pages57
JournalGeneral Relativity and Gravitation
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Atom interferometry
  • Gravitational wave detection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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