The optical and infrared instruments of Euclid, ESA’s mission to study dark energy and dark matter in space, have passed their qualification and acceptance tests and are now fully integrated into the spacecraft’s payload module. This marks an important step forward in assembling the Euclid Space Telescope, which is scheduled to launch in 2022.
Two Euclidean instruments, a visible recorder (VIS) and a near-infrared spectrometer and photometer (NISP), have been integrated into the spacecraft’s payload module by Airbus Defense and Space in Toulouse, France. This module is made of a silicone base plate that contains two instruments on one side and the main mirror of the telescope on the other.
“The design and construction of the module was a complex process,” explains Giuseppe Racca, ESA’s Euclid project manager. “Since the large base plate is made entirely of silicon carbide, a ceramic material had to be molded to accommodate the instruments to ultimate precision. Due to its large size it consists of four parts combined as one. We are very happy that alignment of optics and instruments is now complete. “
Visible and infrared instruments are crucial for measuring the shape and redshift of distant galaxies and clusters of galaxies. This will allow scientists to reconstruct the last 10 billion years of the history of space expansion and explore the mysterious dark matter and dark energy that are thought to dominate the universe.
Following the successful integration of both instruments and telescopes, the so-called “cold units”, the payload module will be delivered to the Spatial de Liege Center, Belgium, in April 2021. There, the instruments will be tested for optical compatibility and performance at operating temperatures in space. -193 C to +17 C).
“We want to make sure the instruments work as intended. Therefore, we will conduct tests in a thermal vacuum chamber that can better simulate conditions in space on Earth,” says Rene Laureijs, ESA’s project scientist for Euclid.
A service module panel containing so-called ‘hot units’ such as computers and power supplies will also be present at the test site in Belgium.
Once compatibility and performance tests show that everything is working as expected, the payload module and hot unit plate will be delivered to Thales Alenia Space in Turin, Italy, where they will be integrated into the final, finished spacecraft. Then another round of tests will ensure that everything works together properly. At that point, the spacecraft is basically ready and ready to launch.
The launch is currently scheduled for the second half of 2022 from the European spaceport Kourou, French Guiana. Euclid will orbit Lagrangi’s second Sun-Earth point (L2), which is 1.5 million kilometers directly ‘behind’ the Earth when viewed from the Sun.
Euclid and ESA
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