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The Euclid Telescope Is Set To Unravel The Mysteries Of The Universe

In a matter of weeks, an extraordinary European spacecraft is set to embark on a mission to delve into the enigmatic depths of the cosmos. With a budget of €1 billion (£850 million), the Euclid Telescope is set to unravel the mysteries of the universe, specifically two perplexing entities: dark energy and dark matter.

Mariella Blankenship
Jun 20, 20231680 Shares37338 Views
In a matter of weeks, an extraordinary European spacecraft is set to embark on a mission to delve into the enigmatic depths of the cosmos. With a budget of €1 billion (£850 million), the Euclid Telescope is set to unravel the mysteries of the universe, specifically two perplexing entities: dark energy and dark matter.
Dark energy, a peculiar force discovered in 1998, has been observed to accelerate the expansion of the universe. On the other hand, dark matter is a form of matter believed to pervade the cosmos, contributing to 80% of the universe's mass, and acting as a cosmic adhesive that binds galaxies together.
These elusive components of the universe are invisible, and astronomers have only managed to infer their existence by studying their effects on the behavior of stars and galaxies.
According to astrophysicist, Prof. Andy Taylor of Edinburgh University:
We cannot say we understand the universe if the nature of these dark components remains a mystery. That is why Euclid is so important.- Prof. Andy Taylor of Edinburgh University
Taylor emphasized the significant contribution of UK scientists in the design and construction of the probe. A noteworthy example is the Vis imager, one of the probe's two primary instruments, which was predominantly built in the UK. “We thought what would be the biggest, most fundamentally important project we could do?” Taylor said. “The answer was Euclid, which has now been designed, built, and is ready for launch.”
Originally slated for launch last year aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket, the plans for Euclid took a turn due to the Ukrainian conflict. In response, the European Space Agency terminated its collaboration with the Russian space agency, Roscosmos. Instead, a new agreement was reached to utilize Elon Musk's SpaceX company and its Falcon 9 rocket for the mission.
The eagerly anticipated launch of Euclid is now scheduled for 1 July, and it will embark on a month-long journey across the solar system to reach its destination: a position known as the second Lagrange point, situated 1.5 million km away from Earth. From this vantage point, Euclid will be positioned with the sun, Earth, and the moon behind it, enabling it to gaze into the depths of deep space. Weighing in at 2 tonnes, the spacecraft will then commence its comprehensive survey of the celestial expanse.
The astronomer Stephen Wilkins, of Sussex University, said:
Euclid has the resolving power of the Hubble space telescope but will be able to survey a third of the night sky at the same time, so it will give us an incredibly detailed map of the heavens.- Stephen Wilkins, of Sussex University
Unveiling the mysteries of dark matter poses a formidable challenge as it cannot be directly observed due to its presumed composition of light-averse particles that neither emits, reflect, nor absorb light. To overcome this obstacle, Euclid will capitalize on a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing.
Several scientist preparing the Euclid Telescope
Several scientist preparing the Euclid Telescope
This groundbreaking technique involves capturing millions of images of galaxies. During certain instances, light from these distant celestial bodies will traverse through regions of dark matter on its trajectory toward Earth. As the light interacts with the gravitational field of the dark matter, its path will be distorted and bent. This phenomenon, known as gravitational lensing, will generate distorted images that hold valuable clues about the nature and properties of the dark matter responsible for their occurrence.
“Gravitational lensing produced by dark matter will tell us a great deal about what it is made of,” said Prof Mathilde Jouzac of Durham University. “It may be that dark matter is made up of light particles. If so, they will produce one kind of lensing. On the other hand, if dark matter is made of very large particles, that will produce a different set of lensing. This information will then help direct the search for dark matter particles on Earth.”
Then there is dark energy. “We will use Euclid to measure it in a different way,” Wilkins added. “We will peer further into the universe and further back in time and study how big it looks at different periods. In that way, we can actually work out how the size of our universe is changing over time and understand when changes in its expansion rate occur.”
Through its diligent efforts, Euclid aims to construct a comprehensive timeline of the universe's expansion spanning the last 10 billion years. This chronicle of cosmic evolution holds the potential to unlock profound secrets that will aid in unraveling the true essence of dark energy.
Euclid, bearing the name of the renowned ancient Greek mathematician often hailed as the father of geometry aspires to unravel the enigmas of the obscure cosmos. Its mission seeks to penetrate the depths of the dark universe, shedding light on its mysteries and revealing fundamental truths about its nature and properties.

Conclusion

“The point of Euclid is really to get the data that will allow us to start discriminating between which of the different ideas we have about the dark universe,” said Taylor. “Hopefully that will help us understand what fundamentally is really going on in the cosmos around us.”
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