Saturday saw the launch of a European satellite observatory on a mission to investigate the dark universe, a mysterious and intangible region.
The Euclid observatory of the European Space Agency was launched by SpaceX in the general direction of the Webb Space Telescope, which is 1 million miles (1.5 million kilometers) distant. The journey there will take a month, and it will start its ambitious six-year survey this fall after another two months.
Nearly an hour into the trip, German flight controllers proclaimed success, cheering and yelling “Yes!” as the telescope contacted home following a clean takeoff.
Josef Aschbacher, director general of the European orbit Agency, said from the Florida launch site, “I’m so thrilled, I’m so excited to see now this mission up in orbit, knowing it is on its way.
Euclid, named after the Greek mathematician of antiquity, will search through billions of galaxies that make up more than one-third of the sky. Scientists seek to gain understanding of the dark energy and dark matter that make up the majority of the universe and keep it expanding by determining the location and shape of galaxies up to 10 billion light-years away — nearly all the way back to the Big Bang that created the cosmos.
The universe, including stars, planets, and us, is barely 5 percent understood by science. The rest is “still a mystery and an enigma, a huge frontier in modern physics that we hope actually this mission will help to push forward,” said Carole Mundell, the science director of the European Space Agency, immediately before launch.
In an effort to shed light on how the dark universe evolved and why its expansion is accelerating, the telescope will produce a highly anticipated 3D image of the cosmos that spans both space and time.
According to the mission’s chief scientist, Euclid will measure dark energy and dark matter with a level of precision never before achieved.
“Euclid, it’s not just a space telescope. Rene Laureijs observed, “It’s actually a dark energy detector.
With a 1.2-meter (4-foot) telescope, two scientific tools, and the ability to observe the cosmos in both visible light and the near infrared, Euclid is 15 feet (4.7 meters) tall and nearly as wide. To maintain the sensitive systems at the right freezing temperatures, a sizable sunshield is constructed.
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In order to further comprehend dark energy and dark matter, NASA, which provided Euclid’s infrared detectors, is planning to launch the Roman Space Telescope in 2027. According to officials, the US-European Webb telescope can participate in this effort.
The primary spaceport for Europe, French Guiana in South America, was where Euclid was scheduled to launch on a Russian rocket.
Following the invasion of Ukraine last year, the European and Russian space agencies severed their relations, and the telescope shifted to a SpaceX flight from Cape Canaveral. According to project manager Giuseppe Racca, waiting for Europe’s next-generation, untested Ariane rocket would have resulted in a delay of more than two years.
The Science and Educational Media Group of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute supports the Associated Press’s health and science coverage. All content is the exclusive responsibility of the AP.
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