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.
- Atom interferometry
- Gravitational wave detection
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)