evolved Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (eLISA)
A space project, initially → LISA, consisting of a configuration of three satellites, aimed to detect low frequency → gravitational waves that cannot be measured by ground-based detectors. The detection range will be from about 0.1 milliHz to 1 Hz. One "mother" and two "daughter" spacecrafts will be brought into an orbit around the Sun, which is similar to the Earth's orbit. The satellites will fly in a near-equilateral triangle formation, with a constant distance of one million km between, following the Earth along its orbit at a distance of around 50 million km. The mother spacecrafts carries two and each of the daughter spacecraft carry one free-flying → test masses that will be kept as far as possible free of external disturbances. The mutual distances of the test masses from satellite to satellite will be measured by means of high-precision, → Michelson-like laser → interferometry. In this way, the extremely small distance variations between the test masses of two satellites can be detected which are caused by the passages of a gravitational waves. The required measurement accuracy of the distances amounts to typically 1/100 of the diameter of a hydrogen atom (10-12 m) at a distance of two million km.