Euclid Space Telescope's first test images out, ready to unveil dark matter mysteriestext_fields
Paris: The Euclid space telescope, launched on July 1 with a mission to unravel the secrets of dark matter and dark energy, has successfully reached its designated orbit. On Monday, the European Space Agency (ESA) unveiled the telescope's first test images.
These images were taken during its commissioning phase, where the powerful instruments were meticulously calibrated. Although these initial snapshots do not fully showcase its potential, they offer a glimpse of the space telescope's capabilities, which are set to revolutionise our understanding of the universe.
The ESA expressed excitement and emotion over the milestone, with Giuseppe Racca, Euclid project manager, saying, "After more than 11 years of designing and developing Euclid, it's exhilarating and enormously emotional to see these first images," reported AFP.
Having travelled approximately one million miles (1.5 million kilometres) from Earth to its observational orbit, Euclid is now ready to chart the most extensive map of the universe ever created. Its ambitious mission aims to survey up to two billion galaxies, spanning more than a third of the sky. By capturing light that has journeyed 10 billion years to reach the vicinity of Earth, the telescope will provide a new perspective on the universe's 13.8-billion-year history.
Euclid's advanced instruments, including a visible light camera, a near-infrared spectrometer, and a photometer (developed in collaboration with NASA), will enable the measurement of galaxies' shapes and their distances from Earth.
However, during the activation of the instruments, researchers encountered an unexpected issue. They found "an unexpected pattern of light contaminating the images." An investigation revealed that sunlight had seeped into the spacecraft through a minute gap, but this anomaly was only detected under specific orientations.
To overcome this challenge, the ESA noted that by avoiding certain angles, the imaging device of Euclid will fulfil its mission successfully. The telescope is now poised to delve into a significant cosmic conundrum because 95% of the universe remains an enigma to humanity.
The unknown force driving the accelerated expansion of the universe, known as dark energy, is believed to account for about 70% of the cosmos, while dark matter, binding the universe together and constituting approximately 80% of its mass, comprises the remaining 25%.
Euclid's scientific operations are scheduled to commence in October, and scientists are eagerly awaiting the treasure trove of information it will bring to address the mysteries that have long perplexed the field of cosmology.