UNITED KINGDOM: In a few weeks’ time, scientists hope to unlock the secrets of the cosmos as the highly anticipated European space probe, Euclid, prepares to embark on a groundbreaking mission. With a staggering budget of €1 billion ($1.10 billion), it aims to delve into the perplexing realms of dark matter and dark energy, two enigmatic components that have long eluded our understanding.
The fundamental nature of dark matter and dark energy has remained concealed from astronomers’ view, compelling scientists to rely on estimations of their influence on galaxies and stars. However, with the launch of the Euclid mission on July 1, hopes are running high that we will finally gain deeper insights into these mysterious phenomena.
At the forefront of this cosmic quest are the astrophysicists and scientists from the United Kingdom, who have played a crucial role in designing and constructing the Euclid probe. Professor Andy Taylor of Edinburgh University emphasized the significance of Euclid, stating, “We cannot say we understand the universe if the nature of these dark components remains a mystery. That is why Euclid is so important.”
Originally intended to launch on a Russian Soyuz rocket, the mission encountered a change in plans due to strained geopolitical circumstances. The European Space Agency swiftly forged a new partnership with Elon Musk’s SpaceX, securing the use of the Falcon 9 rocket to propel Euclid into space.
Euclid’s journey will extend over a month as it navigates the solar system to reach its destination—an astounding 150 million kilometers from Earth. Positioned at the second Lagrange point, Euclid will unveil the celestial wonders by capturing captivating images of deep space, with the Earth, moon, and sun forming a mesmerizing backdrop.
Armed with the resolving power akin to that of the Hubble Space Telescope, Euclid possesses the unique ability to simultaneously survey a third of the night sky, providing an incredibly detailed map of the heavens.
Renowned astronomer, Stephen Wilkins of Sussex University, remarked, “Euclid has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of the universe. Its comprehensive survey of the night sky will unlock a wealth of knowledge.”
One of the mission’s primary objectives is to study gravitational lensing, a phenomenon produced by dark matter. By analyzing the intricate patterns of lensing, scientists anticipate uncovering vital clues about the composition of dark matter. This data will serve as a compass in the search for dark matter particles here on Earth, elucidating whether they are comprised of light particles or larger entities.
Gravitational lensing caused by dark matter will reveal a lot about its composition, according to Durham University Professor Mathilde Jouzac. The direction of the search for dark matter particles on Earth will then be helped by this information.
With the launch of Euclid, the scientific community anticipates a leap forward in our understanding of the universe’s fundamental structure. As the cosmic veil is gradually lifted, Euclid holds the key to unraveling the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy, bringing us closer to a more comprehensive comprehension of our vast and awe-inspiring universe.