The Euclid spacecraft European Space Agency (ESA), which will investigate one of the biggest puzzles in cosmology, dark matter and dark energy, is preparing for launch. With the spacecraft’s two key components newly joined, another module has now been added to it: the combination sunshield and solar panels that will shield it from the sun and generate power.
Other space telescopes such as Hubble and the James Webb Space Telescope observe particular features such as galaxies or stars in great detail. But Euclid will look at a much larger scale to try to capture information about the universe as a whole. Euclid “will look at about 35% of the sky,” explains project manager Giuseppe Racca in a video from the THIS about the project.
It will create a 3D map of the universe by taking very wide observations that can help reveal the effects of dark matter and dark energy, which cannot be detected directly. “It’s kind of a wide-angle camera,” Racca said. “Our goal is to understand more about dark energy and dark matter, which are very important components of the universe.”
Part of the spacecraft design involves very sensitive instruments, which could be disrupted by large changes in temperature. When a spacecraft is in space, the parts of it facing the sun can get much hotter than the parts facing away from the sun, which could cause problems. Therefore, the Euclid Sunshade keeps the sun’s heat away from sensitive parts of the spacecraft. There are also solar panels attached to the module to absorb some of this energy from the sun and provide power to the spacecraft.
There had been concerns about how Euclid would launch. The original plan was for a Russian Soyuz rocket to launch Euclid in April 2023, but ESA suspended its partnerships with the Roscosmos space agency following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Now the spaceship will be launched by an Ariane 6 rocket of the French company Arianespace. The launch will take place from the European spaceport in French Guiana, although it has not yet been confirmed if the original launch date of April 2023 will still be possible.