Euclid is a space satellite designed by the European Space Agency (ESA). ESA is comprised of over two thousand scientists from thirteen countries including the USA, Canada, and Japan coming from over three hundred sage institutions. Euclid arrived in the US on May 1st, 2023 via boat from Italy and is slated to launch from Kennedy Space Center aboard the Falcon 9 rocket designed by SpaceX in July of 2023.
The name for this special satellite comes from the Greek mathematician from Alexandria, Euclid. He studied and founded the term geometry. Because energy and the density of matter are part of the study of geometry as it pertains to the universe this satellite was named to honor him.
Euclid is composed of two parts and has a lifetime of approximately six years. A service module and a payload module. The payload portion houses the telescope and the VIS (Visible Instrument) camera and the NISP (near-infrared camera/spectrometer). The service module contains the satellite systems, an electric generator for power and distribution of that power, altitude controls, data processing, propulsion, thermal controls, and the telecommand and telemetry instruments.
What will Euclid do? As it turns out a lot. Let’s dive into what she was designed to detect.
Euclid is slated to take a five-year journey traveling over fifteen thousand degrees of sky in which she is going to pursue the dark universe, dark matter, and its potential evolution. You may be scratching your head asking what dark matter is. Well, we have what is called normal matter here on earth. The dark matter comes into play in space where matter does not emit or reflect light. We know that dark matter expands the universe and dictates the development of cosmic structures, but there is uncertainty about the location of dark energy and dark matter. Furthermore, dark matter binds galaxies together and compromises nearly eighty percent of the mass in the universe.
Hopefully, Euclid can clarify some of those questions. Euclid is supposed to do some 3D mapping of the universe by observing billions of galaxies and telling us more about their evolution. Her range is billions of light years away and able to cover nearly a third of the sky using time as a third dimension. Scientists believe she can be key to revealing the exact nature and properties of dark matter, dark energy, and gravity. Why is this important?
Dark energy has puzzled even the sharpest scientific minds and there is consensus that the universe is expanding faster than was previously believed. Some believe that this rapid expansion is due to dark energy. Perhaps Euclid can tell us for sure.
Post-launch Euclid will spend approximately a month to arrive in what is called our second sun or the Lagrange Point (L2). This sun is five times farther away from the Earth than the moon. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is in this region too. In this area there is a balance between the gravitational pull of the sun and the earth which is a perfect vantage point for observation.
Euclid is outfitted with several large digital cameras and is small in size compared to the James Webb Space Telescope. Her field of view will be far better than the JWST. Euclid has both a VIS (visible instrument) and NISP (Near Infra Spectrometer and Photometer). VIS is used to capture and measure the positions and shapes of the galaxies using gravitational lensing s light moves through dark matter. NISP measures the red-shift effect or the color of the objects in those galaxies. The longer the light the more red in color. That color spectrum translates into distance. Hence, the reddest in color are the farthest away.
Two thousand or more scientists will be collecting the data send down from Euclid. The total picture cannot be completed until they have collated and analyzed all of the data she will transfer to them over her tenure in space. All are hopeful that this data will reveal the origins of dark matter and much more.