Science & Technology

European space telescope launched from Florida

By Noemi G. Gomez

Cape Canaveral, US, Jul 1 (EFE).- Euclid, the European Space Agency (ESA) telescope designed to study what cosmologists call the dark universe, lifted off Saturday from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Florida’s Atlantic coast.

Forty-six minutes after the launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the ESA’s mission control center in Darmstadt, Germany, confirmed detection of Euclid’s signal from a ground station in New Norcia, Australia.

Euclid is bound for Lagrange point 2, about 1.5 million km (1 million mi) from Earth on the far side of the sun, the same orbit used by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and ESA’s Gaia observatory.

Once there, Euclid will spend six years mapping regions outside our own Milky Way galaxy using its 1.2 m (4 ft) telescope and instruments that measure infrared as well as visible light.

Cosmologists theorize that dark matter and dark energy account for 95 percent of the universe and the only way to track the dark universe is by observing the effects it has on other, visible objects.

Euclid, which cost 1.4 billion euros ($1.53 billion), will see farther into space than humans have ever seen before.

The observatory will relay date to Earth daily and the ESA expects to issue periodic bulletins with the most notable findings pending completion of a report at the conclusion of the mission.

Built to operate for six years, Euclid has the potential to remain useful for an additional four years beyond that.

The original plans called for Euclid to be lofted into space by a Russian Arianespace Soyuz from the ESA Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, but Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine led to a halt in space collaboration with Russia with the exception of the International Space Station.

The observatory could not be accommodated on the outgoing Ariane 5 rocket line and the new Ariane 6 would not be ready in time, leading the ESA to turn to SpaceX.

More than 300 scientists from institutions in Europe, Canada, the United States, and Japan have been involved in the Euclid project and the observatory is adorned with a plaque bearing a drawing of the Milky War made up of the fingerprints of the researchers.

EFE ngg/dr

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