Euclid Space Telescope to Launch on July 1st,2023
The European Space Agency (ESA) is eagerly preparing to embark on an extraordinary mission with the launch of its newest space telescope, Euclid. Scheduled to blast off from Cape Canaveral in Florida on July 1st, this cutting-edge telescope aims to shed light on two enigmatic phenomena that have puzzled scientists for decades: dark energy and dark matter.
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Unveiling the Secrets of the “Dark” Universe
The vast expanse of the cosmos is largely comprised of two mysterious components known as dark energy and dark matter. Despite constituting more than 95 percent of the universe, these entities remain invisible to us, hence their intriguing names. Scientists have only been able to infer the existence of dark matter through the behavior of visible matter, which suggests the presence of an additional gravitational force that holds everything together. In contrast, dark energy works in opposition, driving the universe’s accelerating expansion.
Euclid’s Powerful Instruments
Euclid boasts two scientific instruments that will help unravel these cosmic enigmas. Firstly, it is equipped with a visible light camera capable of measuring the shape of galaxies. Secondly, a near-infrared detector will be employed to gauge their brightness and distance. While other space telescopes have utilized similar instruments in the past, Euclid distinguishes itself by planning to survey an extensive portion of space, cataloging over a billion galaxies across more than one-third of the sky.
A Broader Perspective on the Universe
Mike Seiffert, a project scientist for Euclid at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, draws an analogy between Euclid and other renowned observatories like Hubble and the James Webb Space Telescope. While these observatories offer remarkable precision and intricate details when examining small sections of the sky, Euclid takes a different approach. Seiffert states, “With Euclid, we’re less interested in the properties of individual galaxies and objects than we are in measuring a few properties of many, many galaxies.”
Questioning Our Understanding of the Universe’s Expansion
Euclid Space Telescope’s mission extends beyond the mere observation of galaxies. Researchers intend to employ the gathered properties to construct two distinct maps of the universe. The first map relies on gravitational lensing, a phenomenon where nearby matter warps and amplifies the light emitted by objects located behind it. By analyzing the distorted shapes of distant objects, scientists can gain insights into the distribution of nearby matter acting as the lens.
Although these distortions are typically minuscule, the copious amount of data Euclid Space Telescope is projected to collect during its six-year mission will enable researchers to map out the distribution of matter, including elusive dark matter. A more precise understanding of dark matter’s distribution could yield crucial clues about its composition and behavior.
Mapping the Universe’s Relics
The second type of map utilizes baryon acoustic oscillations, which are ripples in the matter distribution of the universe. These ripples originated as sound waves shortly after the big bang, during a time when the universe was a seething cauldron of particles and radiation. As the cosmic soup cooled, these waves solidified, leaving slightly denser regions where galaxies eventually formed as the universe expanded. Examining these residual over-densities provides a powerful means to investigate the mechanisms behind the universe’s accelerating expansion.
Seiffert explains the significance, stating, “Seeing how those wrinkles in the early universe propagated forward and how dark energy affected that will help us understand the evolution of the universe and, really, how the universe works.” If all goes according to plan, Euclid’s launch will mark the beginning of a journey that will unveil captivating mysteries about the cosmos.
Q: What is the purpose of the Euclid Space Telescope?
Euclid Space Telescope aims to investigate the perplexing concepts of dark energy and dark matter, which collectively make up over 95 percent of the universe. By studying the shape, brightness, and distance of galaxies, Euclid will provide valuable insights into the distribution and behavior of these elusive cosmic entities.
Q: How does Euclid differ from previous space telescopes?
Unlike its predecessors, Euclid Space Telescope is designed to observe a vast expanse of space, covering more than one-third of the sky and cataloging over a billion galaxies. While other telescopes focus on individual objects with high sensitivity, Euclid seeks to measure key properties across a wide array of galaxies.
Q: What is gravitational lensing, and how does Euclid Space Telescope utilize it?
Gravitational lensing refers to the bending and magnification of light by nearby matter, which provides valuable information about the distribution of matter acting as the lens. Euclid Space Telescope will employ this phenomenon to map out the distribution of matter, including the elusive dark matter, which cannot be observed through other means.
Q: How do baryon acoustic oscillations contribute to Euclid’s mission?
Baryon acoustic oscillations are ripples in the matter distribution of the universe that originated shortly after the big bang. By analyzing these ripples and their effect on galaxy formation, Euclid Space Telescope aims to gain a deeper understanding of the mechanisms driving the accelerating expansion of the universe.
Q: How long will Euclid’s mission last?
Euclid’s mission is expected to span over six years, during which it will collect an extensive amount of data to unravel the mysteries surrounding dark energy, dark matter, and the evolution of the universe.