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Euclid spacecraft grows as eyes meet brain

on 06 April 2022

ESA’s Euclid mission, in which Romania also takes part, is now one step closer to unveiling the mysteries of the dark Universe, following the coming together of two key parts of the Euclid spacecraft – the instrument-carrying payload module and the supporting service module.

At the end of March, a team of engineers gathered at Thales Alenia Space in Turin, to carefully attach the two main parts of the Euclid spacecraft together. This task required such extreme precision that it took a whole day, followed by two days of connecting electronic equipment and testing that Euclid’s instruments still work.

Euclid’s payload module houses a reflecting telescope to capture and focus light from distant stars, as well as two instruments to record this light – the VISible imager (VIS) and the Near Infrared Spectrometer and Photometer (NISP).

Together, the telescope and instruments will image billions of galaxies with unrivalled accuracy to help astronomers better understand how they have evolved and clustered into cosmic structures over the last 10 billion years. This will give us clues on the nature of the enigmatic dark matter and dark energy, the two main drivers of the expansion of the Universe.

Euclid’s instruments were integrated onto the payload module at the end of 2020. During 2021, the complete module successfully passed intensive testing under simulated space conditions to check that the telescope and instruments work as expected.

The service module is equally as important. It contains computers to control the instruments as well as all the essential parts that Euclid needs to function, including subsystems to control the orientation of the spacecraft, propel it through space, distribute power, communicate with Earth, and handle data transfer.

In April engineers will attach Euclid to its combined sunshield and solar panels. The sunshield will shade the payload module from the Sun’s intense radiation, helping the mission perform to the very best of its abilities.

The finished spacecraft will measure about 4.7 m tall and 3.7 m wide. After that Euclid will be tested as a complete system and prepared for launch from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

More details here.

Image credit: ESA - S. Corvaja