The ESA (European Space Agency) ‘Euclid’ spacecraft took off this Saturday on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The successful launch marks the beginning of a mission aimed at revealing the nature of two mysterious components of the universe, dark matter and dark energy.
The project has been in preparation for ten years and has an investment of more than 1.4 billion euros. The ‘Euclid’ instruments, when observing from space, will generate images with a sharpness much higher than those achieved with terrestrial telescopes, which are clouded by the atmosphere.
After a month of traveling through space, the telescope will reach its destination to orbit at the second Lagrange point (L2) of the Sun-Earth system, 1.5 million kilometers from Earth in the opposite direction to the Sun. There, Euclid will capture solar energy to supply itself with energy and at the same time point its telescope into deep space.
Next, for about two months it will carry out different tests to verify that all its components and instruments work correctly. Finally, three months after liftoff, Euclid will begin mapping the dark universe during the six years the mission is expected to last.
Up to 10 billion light years
It is expected to capture billions of galaxies at a distance of up to 10 billion light years to create the most accurate and extensive 3D map of the universe, in which time represents the third dimension.
More than 300 institutions from 21 countries participate in the mission, in addition to 80 companies (nine of them Spanish), a human capital that amounts to 3,500 people. The participation of the Institute of Space Sciences of the CSIC, in Barcelona, and that of the European Center for Space Astronomy, headquarters of ESA in Madrid, stands out.