On Saturday, Europe’s Euclid space telescope was launched, beginning a ground-breaking mission to explain the mysterious properties of dark energy and dark matter in space. According to AFP, Josef Aschbacher, director general of the European Space Agency (ESA), expressed his joy and hope for the mission’s success.
At 11:12 a.m. local time (15:12 GMT), the telescope was successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, abroad a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Euclid quickly and according to schedule sent its first communication after separating from the rocket. Due to Russia’s decision to halt the use of Soyuz rockets in response to sanctions related to the conflict in Ukraine, the European Space Agency (ESA) had to rely on Elon Musk’s SpaceX to carry out the launch of the Euclid mission.
According to AFP, ESA’s science director Carole Mundell expressed her joy with the perfect launch and emphasised the start of Euclid’s amazing adventure. Euclid will travel through space for almost a month before arriving at its destination, the second Lagrange Point, which is a stable hovering location around 1.5 million kilometres (about 930,000 miles) from Earth. It will connect to the James Webb telescope here.
With up to two billion galaxies covering more than a third of the sky, Euclid will then draw the biggest map of the universe ever. The map will also provides a fresh perspective on the 13.8 billion year history of the universe by capturing light that has taken 10 billion years to reach Earth’s proximity.
After scientific activities begin in October, the first photos will be released, with the major data releases scheduled for 2025, 2027, and 2030.
The 1.4 billion euro ($1.5 billion) mission is planned to continue until 2029, but if everything goes according to plan, it might last a bit longer. The Nancy Grace Roman satellite telescope will be launched during the coming years as part of a separate NASA initiative to investigate dark matter and dark energy.