SpaceX launched the European Space Agency (ESA) Euclid space telescope into orbit on Saturday, July 1st. The Euclid mission aims to create a 3D-Map of the "dark universe" in unprecedented detail. The Falcon 9 rocket carrying the observatory lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 11:12 a.m. ET. Spectators at the NASA Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex celebrated as the Falcon 9 propelled Euclid into space.
ESA invested $1.5 billion (1.4 billion Euros) in the telescope that is designed to study the nature of "dark matter" which mysteriously holds the Universe together. Various observations, such as the rotational speeds of galaxies and the gravitational lensing of light, indicate the presence of additional mass that cannot be accounted for by visible matter alone. The term "dark matter" was coined to describe this mysterious substance that seems to pervade the universe. While the exact nature of dark matter remains unknown, it is believed to make up approximately 85% of the matter in the universe. Its gravitational influence plays a crucial role in the formation and evolution of galaxies, galaxy clusters, and the large-scale structure of the cosmos. Scientists believe "dark energy" accelerates the expansion of the universe, the Euclid telescope will accurately measure the acceleration of the universe.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/2IZ3pJcsSd— SpaceX (@SpaceX) July 1, 2023
The Euclid mission marked the second flight for the Falcon 9 first-stage booster which previously launched Axiom's Ax-2 astronauts to the International Space Station. Reusing rockets enables cost-effective spaceflight. Soon after launching the Euclid mission, the rocket landed smoothly on the 'A Shortfall of Gravitas' droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX has now landed a total of 204 orbital-class rockets and reused recovered ones 177 times.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship pic.twitter.com/iHbNY1uh8e— SpaceX (@SpaceX) July 1, 2023
SpaceX deployed the Euclid Telescope towards the Sun-Earth Lagrange point 2 (L2). L2 is situated approximately 1 million miles (1.5 million kilometers) away from Earth on the opposite side of the sun. Lagrange points are known for their stability, allowing satellites to conserve fuel while in orbit. Notably, NASA's James Webb Space Telescope also occupies L2. Roughly 41 minutes after liftoff, the observatory separated from the Falcon 9 rocket upper-stage and began its independent voyage. SpaceX shared a video of the telescope being released, as well as a beautiful photograph of Earth in the distance (linked below). Over the course of its six-year mission, Euclid will survey more than a third of the extragalactic sky, looking beyond the boundaries of our Milky Way Galaxy. By employing visible and infrared instruments, the spacecraft will gather extensive data on galaxies, stars, and other celestial objects. Scientists anticipate that Euclid's findings will shed light on the nature of dark matter and dark energy, contributing to our understanding of the cosmos and its evolution. With its advanced capabilities, Euclid represents a significant milestone in astronomical exploration and promises to uncover valuable insights into the mysteries of the universe.
“We are thrilled about the successful launch of ESA’s Euclid mission and are eager to see the science it returns,” said Nicola Fox, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “By studying the ‘dark side’ of our universe, Euclid is not only paving the way for NASA’s Roman Space Telescope, it is igniting a new golden age of survey astronomy that will help us understand our universe’s history and structure in ways that were not possible before.”
So much space pic.twitter.com/9zaKJ40dOy— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 2, 2023
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Featured Images Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.