India, US sign pact to set up LIGO observatory


LIGO

With a view to bolster cooperation in research and development, India and the US signed a pact to set up a new Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) in India. The LIGO project will play a significant role in carrying out research on various aspects of gravitational wave astronomy. The pact was signed on March 31 in Washington DC on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit.

The agreement was signed nearly a month after the Union Cabinet approved the construction of the long-awaited third LIGO interferometer. The pact was signed between Department of Atomic Energy Secretary Sekhar Basu and the US’ National Science Foundation (NSF) France Cordova in the presence of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is in Washington to attend the Nuclear Security Summit.

Showering praise on the LIGO project and describing it as a great example of India-US scientific collaboration, Mr Modi said that the success of this project could inspire an entire young generation of Indian scientists. Appreciating Indian scientists who played a key role in the LIGO project, Mr Modi invited them to interact with Indian students and visit Indian universities, as much as possible.

“Now that India has decided to be part of the project, the possibility is that India would be central to the LIGO project, partly on account of the fact that geography favors us,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesman Vikas Swarup said. “It would come up hopefully in the next five to seven years,” he added.

The long-awaited third LIGO interferometer is expected to be functional by 2023. Once constructed, it is expected to significantly improve the ability of scientists to pinpoint the sources of gravitational waves and analyse the signals.