Searching for gravitational waves via Doppler tracking by future missions to Uranus and Neptune

The past year has seen numerous publications underlining the importance of a space mission to the ice giants in the upcoming decade. Proposed mission plans involve a $\sim$10 year cruise time to the ice giants. This cruise time can be utilized to search for low-frequency gravitational waves (GWs) by observing the Doppler shift caused by them in the Earth-spacecraft radio link. We calculate the sensitivity of prospective ice giant missions to GWs. Then, adopting a steady-state black hole binary population, we derive a conservative estimate for the detection rate of extreme mass ratio inspirals (EMRIs), supermassive- (SMBH) and stellar mass binary black hole (sBBH) mergers. We link the SMBH population to the fraction of quasars $f_\rm{bin}$ resulting from galaxy mergers that pair SMBHs to a binary. For a total of ten 40-day observations during the cruise of a single spacecraft, $\mathcal{O}(f_\rm{bin})\sim0.5$ detections of SMBH mergers are likely, if Allan deviation of Cassini-era noise is improved by $\sim 10^2$ in the $10^{-5}-10^{-3}$ Hz range. For EMRIs the number of detections lies between $\mathcal{O}(0.1) - \mathcal{O}(100)$. Furthermore, ice giant missions combined with the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) would improve the localisation by an order of magnitude compared to LISA by itself.
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