LISA Pathfinder (LPF) is a science and technology demonstrator planned by the European Space Agency in view of the LISA mission. As a scientific payload, the LISA Technology Package on board LPF will be the most precise geodesies explorer flown as of today, both in terms of displacement and acceleration sensitivity. The challenges embodied by LPF make it a unique mission, paving the way towards the space-borne detection of gravitational waves with LISA. This paper summarizes the basics of LPF, and the progress made in preparing its effective implementation in flight. We hereby give an overview of the experiment philosophy and assumptions to carry on the measurement. We report on the mission plan and hardware design advances and on the progress on detailing measurements and operations. Some light will be shed on the related data processing algorithms. In particular, we show how to single out the acceleration noise from the spacecraft motion perturbations, how to account for dynamical deformation parameters distorting the measurement reference and how to decouple the actuation noise via parabolic free flight. © 2009 IOP Publishing Ltd.
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