Two instruments aboard Euclid, the ESA (European Space Agency) spacecraft with the contribution of NASA, have taken their first test images. The results suggest that the space telescope will achieve the scientific goals it was designed for and possibly much more. NASA telescope snapped a picture of the glittering field of stars, suggesting it is doing well after its million-year journey from Earth.
The mission will delve into some of the greatest mysteries of our universe, including the nature of dark matter and why the expansion of the universe is accelerating. Scientists call the force behind this accelerated expansion “dark energy.”
Euclid took off on July 1 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It arrived at its destination about 1 million miles (1.5 million kilometers) from Earth, a vantage point known as the second Lagrange point (L2).
“We’re thrilled to see the detectors and other hardware delivered by NASA performing as expected, and we’re incredibly excited about the science results to come in the coming months and years,” said Mike Seiffert, NASA’s project scientist for Euclid. at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
Given these test images, the scientists and engineers behind the mission are confident that the telescope and instruments are working well. Mission specialists will continue performance verification tests for the next few months before science observations begin.
Euclid Project Manager Giuseppe Racca of ESA says
After more than 11 years of designing and developing Euclid, it is exciting and extremely emotional to see these first images. It’s even more incredible when we consider that here we see only a few galaxies produced with minimal system tuning. A fully calibrated Euclid will eventually observe billions of galaxies to create the largest 3D map of the sky to date.
More about the mission
Three NASA-supported science teams are contributing to the Euclid mission. In addition to designing and manufacturing the sensor chip electronics for the Euclid Near Infrared Spectrometer and Photometer (NISP), JPL led the procurement and supply of the NISP detectors. These detectors, along with the sensor chip electronics, were tested at NASA’s Detector Characterization Lab at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. NASA’s Euclid Science Center at IPAC (ENSCI), at Caltech in Pasadena, California, will archive science data and support US scientific research using Euclid data. JPL is a division of Caltech.