There are two main methods to detect gravitational waves which have been implemented in the currently working instruments. One method is to measure changes induced by gravitational waves on the distances between freely moving test masses using coherent trains of electromagnetic waves. The other method is to measure the deformation of large masses at their resonance frequencies induced by gravitational waves. The first idea is realized in laser interferometric detectors and Doppler tracking experiments [82, 65] whereas the second idea is implemented in resonant mass detectors .
Let us consider the response to a plane gravitational wave of a freely falling configuration of masses. It is enough to consider a configuration of three masses shown in Figure 1 Update to obtain the response for all currently working and planned detectors. Two masses model a Doppler tracking experiment where one mass is the Earth and the other one is a distant spacecraft. Three masses model a ground-based laser interferometer where the masses are suspended from seismically isolated supports or a space-borne interferometer where the three masses are shielded in satellites driven by drag-free control systems.
In Figure 1 we have introduced the following notation: denotes the origin of the TT coordinate system related to the passing gravitational wave, () are 3-vectors joining and the masses, and () are, respectively, 3-vectors of unit Euclidean length along the lines joining the masses and the coordinate Euclidean distances between the masses, where is the label of the opposite mass. Let us also denote by the unit 3-vector directed from the origin to the source of the gravitational wave. We first assume that the spatial coordinates of the masses do not change in time.
Let be the frequency of the coherent beam used in the detector (laser light in the case of an interferometer and radio waves in the case of Doppler tracking). Let be the relative change of frequency induced by a transverse, traceless, plane gravitational wave on the coherent beam travelling from the mass to the mass , and let be the relative change of frequency induced on the beam travelling from the mass 3 to the mass 1. The frequency shifts and are given by [37, 10, 83]
Real gravitational-wave detectors do not stay at rest with respect to the TT coordinate system related to the passing gravitational wave, because they also move in the gravitational field of the solar system bodies, as in the case of the LISA spacecraft, or are fixed to the surface of Earth, as in the case of Earth-based laser interferometers or resonant bar detectors. Let us choose the origin of the TT coordinate system to coincide with the solar system barycenter (SSB). The motion of the detector with respect to the SSB will modulate the gravitational-wave signal registered by the detector. One can show that as far as the velocities of the masses (modelling the detector’s parts) with respect to the SSB are nonrelativistic, which is the case for all existing or planned detectors, the Equations (1) and (2) can still be used, provided the 3-vectors and () will be interpreted as made of the time-dependent components describing the motion of the masses with respect to the SSB.
It is often convenient to introduce the proper reference frame of the detector with coordinates . Because the motion of this frame with respect to the SSB is nonrelativistic, we can assume that the transformation between the SSB-related coordinates and the detector’s coordinates has the formorthogonal, then , and Equation (6) simplifies to [23, 42, 50, 60] for more details.
For a standard Michelson, equal-arm interferometric configuration is given in terms of one-way frequency changes and (see Equations (1) and (2) with , where we assume that the mass 1 corresponds to the corner station of the interferometer) by the expression 
In the case of a bar detector the long-wavelength approximation is very accurate and the detector’s response is defined as , where is the wave-induced change of the proper length of the bar. The response is given by
In most cases of interest the response of the detector to a gravitational wave can be written as a linear combination of four constant amplitudes ,extrinsic parameters whereas the parameters are called intrinsic. In the long-wavelength approximation the functions are given by
Equation (14) is a model of the response of the space-based detector LISA to gravitational waves from a binary system , whereas Equation (15) is a model of the response of a ground-based detector to a continuous source of gravitational waves like a rotating neutron star . The gravitational-wave signal from spinning neutron stars may consist of several components of the form (14). For short observation times over which the amplitude modulation functions are nearly constant, the response can be approximated by[92, 22]. We would like to stress that not all deterministic gravitational-wave signals may be cast into the general form (14).
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