Astrium, Europe’s leading space technology company, has been awarded the Payload Module contract for the European Space Agency’s (ESA) future astronomy mission Euclid, due for launch in 2020.
Astrium will deliver a fully integrated module incorporating a 1.2 metre diameter silicon carbide (SiC) telescope and housing the mission’s science instruments. Astrium is a world-leader in SiC technology – as payload leader for the ESA missions Herschel and Gaia. Herschel has been delivering unique science since 2009 and Gaia is scheduled for launch in 2013.
Euclid is the second “Medium Class” mission in ESA’s Cosmic Vision programme. With the ultimate goal to understand the origin of the Universe’s accelerating expansion, Euclid will map the geometry of the dark universe to an unprecedented accuracy. Euclid is unique in the combination of its two methods for measuring that geometry, namely weak gravitational lensing and galaxy clustering.
Weak gravitational lensing is observed by measuring very precisely any distortion to the images of galaxies caused by invisible matter between them and the Earth. Using this and the distribution of galaxies in space and how that has evolved over cosmological time, allows Euclid to help scientists take a step towards answering questions about the nature of dark energy and dark matter.
Euclid will collect deep and high resolution images of the sky by rotating the spacecraft once every 80 minutes. Within 6 years of observation, covering more than one third of the entire sky, Euclid will measure the shapes of, and distances to, more than 2 billion galaxies.
The key features of the Euclid Payload Module are:
-- A lightweight Silicon Carbide (SiC) telescope with an excellent thermal stability and operating at 130K (-143° Celsius), making it invisible to near infrared wavelengths.
-- A 1.2 meter diameter mirror permitting diffraction limited observation of galaxies as faint as magnitude 24.5.
-- A three-mirror Korsch telescope design supplying light to its two scientific instruments, the Visible Imager (VIS), and the Near-Infrared Spectrophotometer (NISP).
-- The VIS & NISP instruments are maintained in a very cold environment at 135K (-138° Celsius). The VIS & NISP instruments are developed by the Euclid Consortium and delivered to Astrium by ESA.
Astrium is the number one company in Europe for space technologies and the third in the world. It is the only global company that covers the full range of civil and defence space systems, equipment and services. In 2012, Astrium had a turnover over €5.8 billion and 18,000 employees worldwide.
Astrium is a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2012, the Group – comprising Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of €56.5 billion and employed a workforce of over 140,000.