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Euclid satellite’s launch contract for dark energy exploration signed

on 28 January 2020

Arianespace and the European Space Agency (ESA) announced at the beginning of January the signature of a launch services contract for the Euclid satellite. The mission, supported by Romania among other countries, has a timeframe for liftoff starting in mid-2022 from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

Euclid aims to investigate the history of the expansion of our Universe over the past 10 billion years, looking into the current acceleration of cosmic expansion fueled by a mysterious component referred to as dark energy, and the growth of cosmic structures driven by the presence of dark matter. To this aim, Euclid will survey galaxies at a variety of distances from Earth in visible and near infrared wavelengths, over an area of the sky covering more than 35% of the celestial sphere.

According to Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, gravity – the fundamental force that rules the Universe on its largest scales – is intimately linked to the geometry of spacetime, hence the mission concept was called Euclid, honouring the Greek mathematician Euclid of Alexandria who is considered as the father of geometry.

The Euclid mission will use either a Soyuz or an Ariane 62 launch vehicle from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, with a launch timeframe starting in mid-2022. The satellite will have a mass at liftoff of approximately 2160 kg and will orbit around the Sun at an average distance of 1.5 million km beyond Earth’s orbit.

Nearly 1000 scientists from 100 institutes form the Euclid Consortium that is building the instruments and will participate in the mission’s harvest of scientific data. The Euclid Consortium comprises scientists from 13 European countries: Austria, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, Portugal, Romania and the UK. It also includes a team of scientists from NASA.

More information about Euclid can be found at this link.

Image credit: ESA/ATG medialab (spacecraft); NASA, ESA, CXC, C. Ma, H. Ebeling and E. Barrett (University of Hawaii/IfA), et al. and STScI (background)