July 7th, 2009 has been announced as the official start date of LIGO's sixth science run (S6). This has been the tentative start date for some time and, since our progress toward the scientific and engineering goals of S6 has been on-track, the decision was made to commit to the date.
The sixth science run will use the enhanced LIGO upgrades to provide a marked increase in the power of LIGO's detectors, resulting in more than a two-fold increase in strain sensitivity and greater than a factor of 8 increase in the probed volume of the universe. (See the posting below "Enhanced LIGO and the Sixth Science Run" for more details.)
Current plans are to run S6 for approximately one month and then to shut down for a period to allow for a further round of commissioning and detector improvements. Once these adjustments are made, the interferometers will again be powered up and S6 will resume. The duration of the run is expected to extend through most of 2010, or as such time as it must conclude to make way for Advanced LIGO preparations.
Posted by Dave Beckett on 6/15/2009