Just a week before the European probe embarks on a mission to help shed light on dark space.
Dark matter and dark energy hunter Euclid is scheduled to launch on July 1 at 11:11 a.m. EDT (1511 GMT) aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Space Force Base in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The takeoff will be streamed live here at Space.com and you can watch it for free.
Euclid aims to map the extent and impact of the dark universe more acutely than ever before. It has many implications, including how the early universe grew, how galaxies merged, and the universe’s expansion is accelerating.
Related: If dark matter is ‘invisible’, how do we know it exists?
“Dark energy and dark matter reveal themselves by the fairly subtle changes they make to the appearance of objects in the visible universe, otherwise we wouldn’t know about them,” Euclid project scientist René Laureijs told a live European Space Agency briefing. “he said. Today (June 23rd).
Laureijs pointed out phenomena such as gravitational lensing, where the gravitational effects of large foreground objects (such as galaxies) bring distant objects into the field of view. Given that it operates in deep space, Euclid can see these effects more clearly than any previous observatory. It’s heading toward Earth’s solar Lagrange Point 2 (L2), a gravitationally stable point at about 930,000 miles (1.5 million kilometers). ) on our planet.
“They have to show up somewhere, and they’re very subtle,” Laureijs said of the effects that Euclid’s keen vision makes it easier to map and model. Two instruments specializing in infrared (thermal) and visual wavelengths work together to image large swaths of the sky and chart their effects on visible objects to infer where dark matter hides.
Related: The Euclid spacecraft will change the way we view ‘dark space’.
“The telescope’s field of view is half a square degree of the sky at a time. It’s really big compared to the Hubble Space Telescope and huge compared to the James Webb Space Telescope.” Will Percival, Euclid Space Mission science coordinator at the University of Waterloo, Canada, said in a private interview with Space.com.
“We’re going to go through the patch and record our observations. We don’t want a drift scan because we’re doing really accurate and weak ‘Lensing’ observations. (So) we move the telescope to a different patch and that patch .” Percival continued. “Then we stitched this survey together through different exposures, different data patterns, until we observed the entire sky.”
Euclid’s commissioning period will take about eight months, including a one-month move to L2, the same orbit as JWST.
Operating under stable gravity conditions that minimize fuel use, Euclid will carefully test its instruments and systems before being certified for full operation around April 2024.
Percival said the first images of Euclid will be released several months after launch and during commissioning.
Exactly what Euclid will be observing is being closely monitored, but Percival was in the “performance verification phase” of commissioning to see how Euclid would perform for terrestrial observatories that normally conduct dark energy surveys, with images of “well-known nearby objects”. will be included. These images also aim to get the public involved in the mission, he noted.
Euclid is expected to operate for at least 6 years. “We’re looking at 15,000 square degrees at a resolution that’s never been done before, and we’re looking at depth,” said Percival.
It’s difficult to predict what discoveries might be made from the vast amount of data Euclid will send home, he added. “The discovery space for mining data to find new classes of objects is enormous.”
Elizabeth Howell will travel to Florida to cover the launch of Euclid, co-sponsored by Canadian Geographic magazine and the University of Waterloo, Canada. Space.com independently controls news coverage.
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