December 21, 2015

Euclid construction authorized!

Euclid, ESA's dark Universe mission, has passed its preliminary design review, providing confidence that the spacecraft and its payload can be built. Dedicated to dark energy, the mission successfully passed the key point which consolidates and validates the scientific performances of the mission. The construction of the first elements of the space telescope and its payload can now begin.

On the scientific side, this review checked that the mission can indeed deliver the required data, i.e. the study of the mysterious dark energy responsible for the acceleration of the expansion of the Universe. The combined performance of the spacecraft, telescope and instruments shows that the data returned over the six-year mission will achieve the objectives.

For the French contribution, the scientific laboratories and the CNES have now reached full speed and the mobilization is intense (over 350 persons work on the developments). The instruments development, traditionally a critical part of the calendar, took a little advance in order to be delivered in time to AIRBUS Defence & Space (ADS), the telescope builder.

It is in three years (end of 2018), if all goes well, that the flight models will be done!

Already, numerous sub-system mock-up have been built:


Views of different structural and optical pieces of the infrared instrument (NISP)

Numerous behaviour and performance tests are under way on demonstration models which design is very representative of the futur flight models:


Demonstration model of NISP focal plane during tests at LAM (Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille)

The observation visible channel (VIS) is not forgotten. Its focal plane will comprise more than 600 millions of pixels. It is built by the Astrophysics Service of the CEA (Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique):


Integration of the structural & thermal mock-up of VIS instrument focal plane in class 100 clean room of the Astrophysics service of CEA

In parallel of the instrumental activity, the development of the data processing system passed a major step in France with the set up of an agreement between CNES and CNRS for the use of the IN2P3 computing facilities to exploite and produce the mission scientific data.

Indeed, the mission will produce and use an enormous volume of data which requires very performant computing infrastructures such as the CC-IN2P3 facilities.


It is the price to pay in order to try to understand how the billion galaxies revealed by Euclid  is influenced by the mysterious dark energy. Rendez-vous in 2020 for the launch!