The key detectors and equipment needed to build the third observatory of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational wave Observatory (LIGO) will arrive in India some time in 2020.
The observatory, the third one in the world, is being built at Hingoli district in Maharashtra. It is expected to be operational by 2025 and will join its two counterparts, in Hanford and Livingston in the US, to embark on a mega science mission to detect gravitational waves.
These gravitational signals were first detected on Earth in September 2015 by the observatories located at Hanford and Livingston. Forty Indian scientists were part of this key discovery, which even bagged the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2017.
LIGO-India is a joint project between city-based Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), along with the Institute for Plasma Research (IPR), Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT) and the Department of Atomic Energy.
As the project awaits the arrival of equipment, India will team up with researchers from the US to develop next generation technology, said IUCAA Director Somak Raychaudhury.
“Some of the technologies needed for the detectors will be conceived and built for the first time ever. The other partnering countries will use technologies, be it for the mirror coatings, sensors or others, developed by India,” said Raychaudhury, while speaking about LIGO at the 20th National Space Science Symposium on Thursday.
Earlier this month, the LIGO-India team received the environment clearance needed to begin civil construction at the site in Marathwada.
“Geo-technical surveys have been taken up at the site. About 200 boreholes have been dug, which will help us understand the hardness of the rock in the locality,” said Raychaudhury.
Scientists from 20 institutes, including IITs, are involved in LIGO India. The LIGO-India team is also involved in conducting science outreach programmes for school students from Parbhani, Hingoli and Nanded districts.