The LISA Path finder mission will demonstrate the technology of drag-free test masses for use as inertial references in future space-based gravitational wave detectors. To accomplish this, the Path finder spacecraft will perform drag-free flight about a test mass while measuring the acceleration of this primary test mass relative to a second reference test mass. Because the reference test mass is contained within the same spacecraft, it is necessary to apply forces on it to maintain its position and attitude relative to the spacecraft. These forces are a potential source of acceleration noise in the LISA Path finder system that are not present in the full LISA con figuration. While LISA Path finder has been designed to meet it's primary mission requirements in the presence of this noise, recent estimates suggest that the on-orbit performance may be limited by this 'suspension noise'. The drift-mode or free-flight experiments provide an opportunity to mitigate this noise source and further characterize the underlying disturbances that are of interest to the designers of LISA-like instruments. This article provides a high-level overview of these experiments and the methods under development to analyze the resulting data.
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