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Premiere: Romania - institutional partner of ESA in a scientific space mission

on 15 October 2011

The Romanian Space Agency (ROSA), together with the Institute of Space Science (ISS) from Magurele - Bucharest will participate in the design of Euclid space mission, intended to study the accelerating expansion of the Universe.

 The mission was selected today by the European Space Agency (ESA) for the "Cosmic Vision" programme and it will be launched in 2019.

The reason of the accelerated expansion of the Universe is one of the most fascinating challenges of cosmology and fundamental physics of the XXI century. In fact, this year's Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded in this area too.

Euclid is an ESA space observatory that will make it possible to understand the origin of the accelerating expansion of the universe that physicists and astronomers call it "dark energy".

Current observations show that dark energy accounts for more than 70% of the balance of matter and energy in the universe today, resulting in influencing its evolution.

Euclid will observe several hundred millions of galaxies distributed in a large fraction of the sky, identifying the signature of dark energy, of dark matter and of gravity on the geometry of the universe and on the history of the formation of its structures. By measuring the apparent shape and spatial distribution of galaxies, astronomers will find out what dark energy means and will check if general relativity theory is still valid beyond billion light years scales.

To this end, the satellite will be equipped with a system for recording images in the visible spectrum (VIS) and a Near Infrared Spectrometer instrument (NISP) developed by a European consortium consisting of more than 110 laboratories and 800 science people in Europe, coordinated by the Institute of Astrophysics from Pars (IAP). The task of the consortium is also the "ground segment", meaning producing and analyzing data obtained by the Euclid instruments.

In addition to ESA, the main contributing countries forming Euclid Mission Consortium are: Austria, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, Finland, France, Germany, UK, Norway, the Netherlands, Romania and Spain, with the contribution of laboratories from the United States.

The Romanian contribution is supported by the Romanian Space Agency, through the Institute of Space Science fromBucharest - Magurele, the institute being involved primarily in the scientific aspects of the mission.

The importance for Romania of ESA selecting the Euclid mission is that it is one of the first scientific space missions where our country is institutional partner. This is possible due to the sustained efforts of the Romanian Space Agency, finalized with Romania's accession to ESA, and also due to the outstanding results achieved by Romanian researchers - particularly ISS's - during the ESA Planck mission, dedicated to studying the early universe, the natural precursor of Euclid mission .