New York

A European Space Agency effort to try to detect gravitational waves in space is not only technically feasible but compelling, a new report finds. A panel of experts was asked to perform a “sanity check” on the endeavour, which is likely to cost well in excess of one billion euros.

The Gravitational Observatory Advisory Team says it sees no showstoppers. It even suggests Esa try to accelerate the project from its current proposed launch date in 2034 to 2029.

Whether that is possible is largely a question of funding. Space missions launch on a schedule that is determined by a programme’s budget. “But after submitting our report, Esa came back to us and asked what we thought might be technically possible, putting aside the money,” explained panel chairman, Dr Michael Perryman. “We are in the process of finalising a note on that, which will suggest the third quarter of 2029. So, 13 years from now,” he told BBC News. The agency has stated its intention to build a mission that investigates the “gravitational Universe”, and is set to issue a call to the scientific community to submit a detailed proposal.