Telescope and instruments

Cutout of throughput change when warming up mirror during first Euclid decontamination campaign.

Euclid successfully de-iced, gains 15% sensitivity

Every space mission starts on Earth, in humid air and warm temperatures. After launch all satellites are then exposed to the vacuum of space, all air just rushes out, and everything cools down fast, to freezing temperatures of -150°C in the case of the Euclid space telescope. Once in space all that is left is the metal and Silicon Carbide and other materials that the instruments are made of. And a bit of water – which has consequences if it ends up as a thin layer on mirrors or lenses. Euclid just successfully removed ice and gained 15% of light transmission.

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Aurora over Edinburgh, 2023-09, photo by Gordon Gibb

Space weather

Euclid is a space mission, for a very good reason: on the surface of Earth, “ground-based” telescopes are subject to sunlight during the day, varying temperatures, to clouds, humidity, wind, and sometimes even rain. They are subject to a constantly varying atmosphere – the consequences of ‘weather’. Euclid’s core science, cosmology, however, requires a telescope with very stable properties – not possible in ground-based weather – so Euclid had to go to space. In contrast, is the Sun-Earth-Lagrange-Point-2, where Euclid is now stationed, the most perfectly stable place? Well, not completely. We’ll tell you why.

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Why is going to space crucial to map dark matter?

A key promise of the Euclid mission is to explore the evolution of the dark Universe. The foundation of this ambitious program is a large optical and near-infrared imaging survey. Euclid’s cosmic map will depict more than one billion galaxies out to 10 billion light-years, making it the biggest and most detailed cosmological data set of our age. How does the quality of the first Euclid images compare to another reference cosmological data set, the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) Legacy Imaging Survey?

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What’s in Euclid’s First Light images?

Euclid’s “First Light” engineering images show a lot of things. There are obviously some astronomical objects, but also some stranger features that are not. The reason is that these images are “raw”, they have not been digitally treated the ways as needs to be done to create science-ready images. They contain a lot of features that are properties of the detectors used, but also unwanted internal reflections of the optics, as well as cosmic rays that hit all space telescopes. Converting these images into science-ready data is the task of the Euclid Science Ground Segment, which has developed a huge and very detailed data treatment (“data reduction”) pipeline over many years.

What’s in Euclid’s First Light images? Read More »

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