A month after launching the Euclid telescope, ESA has released a series of raw test images from the VISible Instrument (VIS), a near-infrared spectrometer and photometer (NISP).
The Euclid Space Telescope took test images. Expected to announce its first scientific results in January 2024, the Euclid mission will explore dark matter and dark energy to advance our understanding of the evolution of the Universe
“After 12 years of Euclid development and production, it is exciting and touching to see these first images. But it will be possible to display them to the public once the scientific team has finished studying them. The first scientific publication will be published in January,” said Giuseppe Racca, director of the Euclid project at ESA. Launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral on July 1, the 2-ton space telescope is designed to study the Universe for answers about the dark matter and dark energy that shape the Universe. how it lasts for billions of years.
It took Euclid a month to reach the Lagrange point L2 between the Earth and the Sun, located 1.5 million km away from the Earth in the direction away from the Sun. Once this point is reached, the space device must undergo a two-month testing process before scientific research can begin. However, during testing of the device, problems were discovered that prevented the telescope from providing the highest resolution images. The problem was so serious that ESA had to pause testing and start looking for a solution. Within a few weeks, solutions were found and the situation improved significantly, allowing the telescope to obtain hundreds of test images of galaxies.
Giuseppe Racca said that when Euclid flew into orbit, the scientific team discovered that foreign light was entering the telescope’s field of view, affecting the light sensor and making it difficult to observe very small galaxies. dark. This is a major problem that can cause the mission to fail. To solve this problem, the team rotated the telescope two and a half degrees on its axis. This is enough to remove excess light. To take multiple images or perform spectroscopic and photometric measurements in the infrared spectrum, the position sensor must be able to accurately hold the telescope in the desired orientation for 75 minutes, guided by the stars. standard. But in some locations, high-energy cosmic rays and solar protons disrupted the sensor, creating signals that it misinterpreted as real stars. Scientists took this possible effect into account in simulations, but in real space environments this effect turned out to be stronger than expected.
This problem was discovered in early August, and on August 18, they stopped measurements where strange lights were observed while making other observations. Developing and testing new software to solve the problem took about two months. After a software update over the past two weeks, the telescope has been operating normally, but scientists need to ensure it continues to function properly during its six-year mission. Every morning they check the data coming from the ESA Chile space complex and so far everything is going well.
The quality of Euclid’s work is comparable to Hubble’s, but Euclid can accomplish in a week what Hubble can accomplish in five years. More than 1000 photos of amazing quality were delivered. Several scientists accessed these images and found them remarkable. Over six years, Euclid would observe billions of galaxies and create the largest three-dimensional map of the universe ever created. About 2,000 scientists around the world participated in sharing the first images and data. In May 2027, NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Telescope will join the study of dark matter and dark energy with even more powerful instruments. The Euclid and Nancy Grace Roman missions have complementary strategies: Euclid’s previous study of large areas of the sky would allow it to carry out a reconnaissance mission, while the latter telescope two will focus on a smaller area, exploring ‘the Universe with greater depth and precision’.