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HomeBest HostingThe dark matter studying the Euclid spacecraft receives its parasol

The dark matter studying the Euclid spacecraft receives its parasol

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Euclid spacecraft, which is about to investigate one of the biggest puzzles in cosmology - dark matter and dark energy - is preparing for launch. With the two key components of the spacecraft recently joined, another module has now been added: the combination of sunshade and solar panels that will protect it from the sun and generate energy.

Other space telescopes, such as Hubble and the James Webb Space Telescope, analyze certain features such as galaxies or stars in detail. But Euclid will look at a much larger scale to try to capture information about the universe as a whole. Euclid “will look at about 35% of the sky,” explains Euclid project manager Giuseppe Racca in an ESA video about the project.

It will create a 3D map of the universe, taking very broad observations that can help reveal the effects of dark matter and dark energy, which cannot be detected directly. “It’s kind of a wide-angle room,” Racca said. “Our goal is to understand more about dark energy and dark matter, which are very important components of the universe.”

Engineers at Turin's Thales Alenia Space are attaching a combined sun visor and a solar panel module to the main body of ESA's Euclid spacecraft.
In this image, taken on May 23, 2022, engineers at Thales Alenia Space in Turin attach a combined sun visor and a solar panel module to the main body of ESA’s Euclid spacecraft. The module has two functions: while the solar panels will provide energy to the spacecraft, the sun visor will shade the payload module carrying the instrument from the intense radiation of the Sun. ESA - S. Corvaja

Part of the design of the spacecraft involves very sensitive instruments, which could be disrupted by large temperature changes. When a spacecraft is in space, its parts facing the sun may become much hotter than those facing away from the sun, which could cause problems. Therefore, the Euclid sunshade keeps the sun’s heat away from the sensitive parts of the spacecraft. There are also solar panels attached to the module to absorb some of this energy from the sun and to supply energy to the spacecraft.

There have been concerns about how Euclid will be launched. The original plan was for a Russian Soyuz rocket to launch Euclid in April 2023, but ESA suspended its partnerships with the Roscosmos space agency following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Now, the spacecraft will be launched by an Ariane 6 rocket from the French company Arianespace. The launch will take place from the European spaceport in French Guiana, although it has not yet been confirmed whether the initial launch date of April 2023 will still be possible.

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