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SyZyGy: A Straight Interferometric Spacecraft System for Gravity Wave Observations

  • Estabrook, F. B.
  • Armstrong, J. W.
  • Tinto, Massimo
  • Folkner, William
Published Article
Publication Date
Jul 25, 2003
Submission Date
Jun 16, 2003
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.68.062001
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We apply TDI, unfolding the general triangular configuration, to the special case of a linear array of three spacecraft. We show that such an array ("SyZyGy") has, compared with an equilateral triangle GW detector of the same scale, degraded (but non-zero) sensitivity at low-frequencies (f<<c/(arrany size)) but similar peak and high-frequency sensitivities to GWs. Sensitivity curves are presented for SyZyGys having various arm-lengths. A number of technical simplifications result from the linear configuration. These include only one faceted (e.g., cubical) proof mass per spacecraft, intra-spacecraft laser metrology needed only at the central spacecraft, placement in a single appropriate orbit can reduce Doppler drifts so that no laser beam modulation is required for ultra-stable oscillator noise calibration, and little or no time-dependent articulation of the telescopes to maintain pointing. Because SyZyGy's sensitivity falls off more sharply at low frequency than that of an equilateral triangular array, it may be more useful for GW observations in the band between those of ground-based interferometers (10-2000 Hz) and LISA (.1 mHz-.1 Hz). A SyZyGy with ~1 light- second scale could, for the same instrumental assumptions as LISA, make obseervations in this intermediate frequency GW band with 5 sigma sensitivity to sinusoidal waves of ~2.5 x 10^-23 in a year's integration.

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