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A New Mission To Unveil The Universe's Enigmas Has Commenced

A new mission to unveil the Universe's enigmas has commenced as the Euclid space telescope successfully embarked on its journey. Saturday morning witnessed the launch of Euclid aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, marking a significant milestone for the European Space Agency (ESA).

Tyrese Griffin
Jul 02, 20236541 Shares107224 Views
A new mission to unveil the Universe's enigmas has commenced as the Euclid space telescope successfully embarked on its journey. Saturday morning witnessed the launch of Euclid aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, marking a significant milestone for the European Space Agency (ESA).
At precisely 11:12 a.m. ET, the Falcon 9 rocket propelled Euclid into space, setting the stage for an unprecedented scientific expedition. Approximately 45 minutes after liftoff, at 11:57 a.m. ET, mission control received the eagerly awaited signal from the telescope, confirming its successful deployment.
With this momentous launch, Euclid is poised to embark on its mission to shed light on the most profound mysteries of the universe. Scientists and astronomers around the world eagerly anticipate the wealth of knowledge that this state-of-the-art space telescope will provide, as it ventures forth to explore the vast expanse of the cosmos.
The Euclid space telescope, boasting a diameter of 1.2 meters (4 feet), has embarked on an exciting month-long journey to reach its orbital destination: the sun-Earth Lagrange point L2. This point is situated approximately 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometers) away from Earth and serves as the abode of NASA's renowned James Webb Space Telescope. Throughout its mission, Euclid will maintain a synchronized orbit with our planet as it travels around the sun.
Upon reaching its designated orbit, Euclid will dedicate two months to meticulously test and calibrate its cutting-edge instruments. These instruments include a visible light camera and a near-infrared camera/spectrometer, which will enable the telescope to capture and analyze cosmic phenomena with exceptional precision. Following this preparatory phase, Euclid will commence an extensive six-year survey, meticulously observing and scrutinizing one-third of the sky.

Investigating Cosmic Mysteries

Euclid's foremost objective revolves around scrutinizing the enigmatic realms of the universe, often referred to as the "dark side." This captivating mission aims to investigate and unravel the secrets of two elusive cosmic entities: dark matter and dark energy.
Dark matter, although it has eluded direct detection thus far, is believed to constitute a staggering 85% of the total matter in the universe. Its enigmatic nature presents a captivating puzzle that Euclid seeks to unravel through its meticulous observations and analysis.
Simultaneously, Euclid turns its gaze towards dark energy, a mysterious force speculated to be responsible for the accelerated expansion of the universe. By delving into the characteristics and behavior of dark energy, the mission endeavors to shed light on this profound cosmic phenomenon, which holds the potential to reshape our understanding of the universe's evolution.
In the 1920s, Georges Lemaître and Edwin Hubble made a groundbreaking discovery in astronomy. They found evidence that the universe has been expanding since its birth around 13.8 billion years ago.
However, research conducted in the 1990s shed light on an unexpected phenomenon: the expansion of the universe started accelerating approximately 6 billion years ago. The cause behind this acceleration remains a mystery, and understanding it is crucial for unraveling the true nature of dark energy and dark matter.
By comprehending the properties of dark energy and dark matter, astronomers hope to gain insight into the fundamental composition of the universe, how its expansion has evolved over time, and whether our understanding of gravity is incomplete. Furthermore, both dark matter and dark energy significantly influence the distribution and movement of celestial objects, including galaxies and stars, throughout the cosmos.
The Euclid space telescope right before its installation in the nose of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket
The Euclid space telescope right before its installation in the nose of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket
Euclid, a space telescope mission, has been specifically designed to tackle these mysteries. Its objective is to construct the most extensive and precise three-dimensional map of the universe to date.
By observing billions of galaxies situated up to 10 billion light-years away, Euclid aims to unveil the effects of dark energy on the stretching and pulling of matter throughout cosmic history. Through these observations, Euclid will provide valuable insights into the evolution of the universe over the past 10 billion years.
The telescope, named Euclid in honor of Euclid of Alexandria, a renowned Greek mathematician from around 300 BC known as the father of geometry, is an ambitious mission primarily led by the European Space Agency (ESA). It is worth noting that Euclid also benefits from contributions by NASA and the collaborative efforts of over 2,000 scientists representing 13 European countries, the United States, Canada, and Japan.
Distinguishing itself from ground-based sky surveys, Euclid possesses unparalleled image quality, with four times sharper visuals. Moreover, its wide perspective enables it to capture data from an area of the sky that is a hundred times larger than what the camera of the James Webb Space Telescope can encompass.
Throughout its observations, Euclid will compile a comprehensive catalog featuring 1.5 billion galaxies and their constituent stars, thus providing astronomers with a wealth of invaluable data. This data will encompass essential characteristics of each galaxy, such as its shape, mass, and the rate at which stars are formed within it annually. Furthermore, Euclid's capability to perceive near-infrared light opens up the possibility of discovering previously unseen objects within our own Milky Way galaxy, including brown dwarfs and ultra-cool stars.

An Exceptional Duo

In May 2027, the Nancy Grace Roman Telescope is set to join Euclid in orbit. This significant event will mark a new era in the study of cosmic acceleration as both missions embark on creating detailed three-dimensional maps of the universe.
“Twenty-five years after its discovery, the universe’s accelerated expansion remains one of the most pressing mysteries in astrophysics,” said Jason Rhodes, a senior research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, in a statement.
According to a statement by Rhodes, who serves as the deputy project scientist for Roman and the US science lead for Euclid:
With these upcoming telescopes, we will measure dark energy in different ways and with far more precision than previously achievable, opening up a new era of exploration into this mystery.- Rhodes, who serves as the deputy project scientist for Roman and the US science lead for Euclid
The Roman telescope is designed to study a significant portion of the sky in infrared light, enabling enhanced depth and precision in its observations. It has the capability to observe celestial objects dating back to a time when the universe was merely 2 billion years old, surpassing the capabilities of the Euclid telescope by detecting even fainter galaxies.
Additionally, Roman possesses the unique capacity to track and investigate rogue planets that exist independently without being bound to any stars. It is equipped to explore exoplanets throughout our galaxy and conduct in-depth research on objects situated in the outer regions of our solar system.
“Together, Euclid and Roman will add up to much more than the sum of their parts,” said Yun Wang, a senior research scientist at the California Institute of Technology, in a statement. “Combining their observations will give astronomers a better sense of what’s actually going on in the universe.”
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