Could GPS satellites be used to detect gravitational waves?

In summary, to detect gravitational waves, scientists have set up probe masses in distant laboratories and measure the distance between them. While GPS satellites have precise atomic clocks and are far apart, their positioning system is not accurate enough to detect the expected distortions caused by gravitational waves. However, there is ongoing research and development for a space-based solution, such as the LISA mission.
  • #1
haael
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To detect gravitational waves, we set up some probe masses in laboratories far from each other and measure distance between them. Why not use GPS satellites for that? I mean: they have precise atomic clocks, they constantly measure their position relative to each other and they are as far away from each other as possible with current technology.

Has it already been done, by any chance? Has anyone tried to use GPS satellites orbit disturbances to detect gravitational waves?
 
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  • #2
Their positioning system is not nearly accurate enough - the distortions expected are of the order of 10-22 and geosynchonous orbit is something like 70000km across - giving a maximum displacement of the order of femtometers(?)

However:
http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/features/topics/gwaves/gwaves.html
 
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  • #3
For something space-based that could do the job, look up LISA.

http://lisa.nasa.gov/

It's current status seems to be in flux, people are still trying to make it happen, I don't know any of the details.
 

1. Can GPS satellites detect gravitational waves?

Yes, GPS satellites can potentially be used to detect gravitational waves.

2. How can GPS satellites be used for detecting gravitational waves?

GPS satellites use precise timing to determine a receiver's location on Earth. Gravitational waves cause tiny distortions in spacetime, which can be detected by measuring changes in the timing of signals received by the satellites.

3. What advantages do GPS satellites have over other gravitational wave detectors?

GPS satellites are already in orbit, providing a large network of detectors covering a wide area. They also have a long track record of accurate timing, making them well-suited for detecting small changes caused by gravitational waves.

4. Are there any challenges to using GPS satellites for detecting gravitational waves?

One challenge is that the signals received by GPS satellites must be carefully analyzed and filtered to distinguish between noise and actual gravitational wave signals. Additionally, the timing precision of GPS satellites may not be sufficient for detecting very small gravitational waves.

5. How could using GPS satellites to detect gravitational waves benefit scientific research?

Using GPS satellites for gravitational wave detection could provide valuable data for studying the behavior and properties of these waves, potentially leading to a better understanding of the universe and its origins. It could also help to improve and refine our current models of gravity and spacetime.

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