On Saturday,1st July at around 11:11 a.m. EDT, a new space telescope named Euclid spacecraft is ready to go to space. Let’s dive in further to know about the amazing journey of this spacecraft;
What the Euclid spacecraft actually is?
It is a European Space Agency (ESA) project, but NASA, the American space agency, also helped a lot. Its main job is to discover why the universe is getting bigger faster and faster. Scientists are curious about the strange force causing this, calling it “dark energy.”
Two of the greatest contemporary enigmas about the cosmos, dark matter and dark energy, will be clarified by the ESA project Euclid spacecraft, to which NASA will also contribute.
Nancy Grace Telescope collaborating with Euclid spacecraft
By May 2027, another NASA telescope called the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will team up with Euclid. Together, they will try to solve this mystery in new ways. Jason Rhodes, a top research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California and a key person in both the Roman and Euclid spacecraft projects, said that;
“Even though we learned about the universe’s fast expansion 25 years ago, we still don’t understand it”.
“These new telescopes would help us measure dark energy much better than before, starting a new exploration period.”
Scientists are curious to know if the universe’s speedy expansion is because of some extra energy or if it means that we need to change how we understand gravity. Astronomers will use Roman and Euclid to look into both of these theories. They think both of these projects will give us important information about the universe’s workings.
How will the Roman and Euclid will work?
Euclid and Roman are made to study the universe’s speedy expansion, but they’ll do it in different ways that complement each other. Both will make 3D maps of the universe to answer big questions about its history and structure. Together, they’ll be much more powerful than they would be alone.
Euclid spacecraft will look at a much bigger area of the sky – around 15,000 square degrees, or about a third – using infrared and optical light but will see less detail than Roman. It will look back 10 billion years to when the universe was about 3 billion years old.
Roman can look at the universe with more detail and precision but will cover a smaller area – about 2,000 square degrees, or one-twentieth of the sky. Its infrared vision will see the universe when it was 2 billion years old, showing more fainter galaxies. While Euclid spacecraft will only look at the universe’s structure, Roman will also study closer galaxies, find and study planets throughout our galaxy, look at objects at the edges of our solar system, and much more.
The Hunt for Dark Energy
The universe has grown since it was born, a fact discovered by Belgian astronomer Georges Lemaître in 1927 and Edwin Hubble in 1929. But scientists thought that the universe’s gravity would gradually slow this growth. In the 1990s, by looking at a specific kind of supernova, scientists found out that about 6 billion years ago, dark energy started to have a bigger effect on the universe, and we don’t know how or why. The fact that the universe’s expansion is speeding up means that we don’t understand something about the universe.
What will Euclid and Roman projects will study?
Roman and Euclid will give us new data to help us understand this mystery. They’ll try to figure out what’s causing the universe’s speedy expansion in a few different ways. First, Roman and Euclid will look at how matter has accumulated over time using weak gravitational lensing. This happens because anything with mass bends space-time; the more mass, the more bending. The light that moves through these bends looks distorted. The background can look smeared or show multiple images when the bending objects are big galaxies or clusters of galaxies.
Less concentrated mass, like clumps of dark matter, can create smaller effects. Roman and Euclid spacecraft will create a 3D map of dark matter by studying these smaller distortions. This will give clues about the universe’s speedy expansion because the gravitational pull of dark matter, acting like a glue that holds galaxies and galaxy clusters together, fights against the universe’s expansion. By counting all the universe’s dark matter over time, scientists will better understand the push-and-pull causing the universe’s speedy expansion.
The two projects will also study how galaxies are grouped at different times in the universe. Scientists have seen a pattern in how galaxies gather from measurements of the nearby universe. For any galaxy today, we are about twice as likely to find another galaxy about 500 million light-years away than a little nearer or farther.
Observing the Expansion of universe
This distance has grown over time because of the universe’s expansion. By looking further into the universe via Euclid spacecraft, to earlier times, astronomers can study the preferred distance between galaxies in different periods. Seeing how it has changed will reveal the universe’s expansion history. Seeing how galaxy grouping varies over time will also allow a precise gravity test. This will help astronomers tell the difference between an unknown energy component and different theories about modified gravity as explanations for the universe’s speedy expansion.
Roman’s survey for Ia supernova
Apart from Euclid spacecraft, Roman will conduct an extra survey to discover many faraway type Ia supernovae – a special exploding star. These explosions have a similar brightness. Because of this, astronomers can determine how far away the supernovae are by measuring how bright they look.
Astronomers will use Roman to study the light of these supernovae to find out how fast they appear to be moving away from us. Scientists will trace the universe’s expansion over time by comparing how fast they’re moving away at different distances. This will help us better understand whether and how dark energy has changed throughout the universe’s history.
What is the significance of Roman and Euclid spacecraft project?
The two projects’ surveys will overlap, with Euclid likely looking at the entire area Roman will examine. Scientists can use Roman’s more detailed and precise data to correct Euclid’s and apply these corrections to Euclid’s larger area.
Mike Seiffert, a project scientist for the NASA contribution to Euclid at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said that Euclid spacecraft’s first look at the big area of sky it will study would inform the science, analysis, and survey approach for Roman’s more detailed examination.
Yun Wang, a senior research scientist at Caltech/IPAC in Pasadena, California, who has led galaxy grouping science groups for both Euclid and Roman, said,
“Together, Euclid and Roman will add up to much more than the sum of their parts.”
He said combining their observations will give astronomers a better idea of what’s happening in the universe.
Three science groups supported by NASA are contributing to the Euclid spacecraft project. Along with designing and making Euclid’s Near Infrared Spectrometer and Photometer (NISP) instrument sensor-chip electronics, JPL led the getting and delivery of the NISP detectors. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center tested those detectors. The Euclid NASA Science Center at IPAC (ENSCI) at Caltech will support U.S.-based studies using Euclid spacecraft data.