How SpaceX Launches the Euclid Mission to Explore the Dark Universe

The European Space Agency’s Euclid spacecraft is about to embark on its mission to chart the history of the universe going back 10 billion years.

The map produced by the spacecraft, named after the Greek mathematician known as the father of geometry, will be used to explore how dark matter and dark energy – the mysterious substances that make up 95 percent of our universe – have been affected. We see when we look across space and time.

Euclid is expected to lift off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla., at 11:12 a.m. ET Saturday. Both ESA And SpaceX They provide live broadcasts of the flight on their YouTube channels. SpaceX says the weather forecast for the flight is 90 percent favorable A Saturday morning update.

ESA planned to launch the spacecraft A Russian Soyuz rocket Or the new Ariane 6 rocket. But the breakdown in European-Russian space relations after the Ukraine invasion and Ariane 6, ESA’s Moved some launches to SpaceXincluding Euclid.

In the event that weather or other reasons prevent the aircraft from lifting on Saturday, a backup launch opportunity is planned for the same time the following day.

The Euclid Space Telescope aims to explore how dark matter and dark energy have shaped the universe across space and time. In infrared and visible wavelengths, the mission will record a third of the sky over the next six years, peering into the past to observe galaxies that are four billion years old.

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Unlike the Hubble and James Webb space telescopes, which focus deeply on one region of the sky at a time, scientists will use Euclid to cover vast swaths of the extragalactic sky at once. In the three regions it records, Euclid goes even further back, capturing the structure of the universe about a billion years after the Big Bang.

Dark matter – an invisible substance that does not emit, absorb or reflect light – has so far eluded direct detection. But scientists know it exists because of its gravitational influence on galaxies moving through space. Maps of the universe created using data from the Euclid Space Telescope will reveal how dark matter is distributed across space and time by slightly deflecting light from the galaxies behind it. This is an effect known as weak gravitational lensing.

Euclid would also study dark energy, a more mysterious force that acts in the opposite way to gravity: instead of pushing objects together, it pulls them apart – causing our universe to expand at a faster rate.

Scientists hope they can test with Euclid’s data whether Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity behaves differently on cosmological scales. This may have to do with the nature of dark energy: whether it is a static force in the universe, or a dynamic force with properties that vary over time – it could revolutionize basic physics as scientists know it. Such a discovery may even shed light on the ultimate fate of our ever-expanding universe.

The mission delivers a visible imager with a 600-megapixel camera that can photograph two full moons’ worth of sky at a time. With this instrument, scientists can collect how the shapes of galaxies are distorted by the dark matter in front of them.

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Euclid also has a near-infrared spectrometer and photometer to measure each galaxy’s redshift, or wavelength-stretching effect on light from distant space. When used in conjunction with ground-based instruments, they can longitudinally change the redshift to infer the distance to each galaxy.

After Euclid explodes, it will travel nearly a million miles from our planet and orbit what is known as the second Lagrange point, or L2. At L2, the gravitational forces of the Earth and the Sun dissipate. This places Euclid in a position to make extensive surveys of the sky without the earth or the moon obstructing his view. The James Webb Space Telescope orbits L2 for the same reason.

With a month to go before the spacecraft arrives, three more months to test the performance of Euclid’s instruments before scientists can begin sending data back to Earth for analysis.

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