Two instruments aboard Euclid – a European Space Agency (ESA) spacecraft with NASA contributions – have captured their first test images.
The telescope took a picture, capturing a glittering field of stars. NASA said Monday that the results indicate the space telescope is doing well after its million-mile journey from Earth and will achieve the scientific goals that it has been designed for "and possibly much more."
"After more than 11 years of designing and developing Euclid, it’s exhilarating and enormously emotional to see these first images," Euclid Project Manager Giuseppe Racca of ESA wrote in a statement on July 31. "It’s even more incredible when we think that we see just a few galaxies here, produced with minimum system tuning. The fully calibrated Euclid will ultimately observe billions of galaxies to create the biggest-ever 3D map of the sky."
NASA said the mission will delve into some of the biggest mysteries about our universe, including the nature of dark matter and why the universe’s expansion is accelerating. Scientists call the force behind this accelerated expansion ‘dark energy.’
Early commissioning test image (Credit: ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA, CC BY- SA 3.0 IGO)
"We are thrilled to see that the NASA-supplied detectors and other hardware are working as expected and are incredibly excited about the scientific results that will come in the months and years ahead," said Mike Seiffert, project scientist for the NASA contribution to Euclid at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
The Euclid spacecraft launched earlier this month from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
VIS instrument full field of view and a zoom in for detail (Credit: ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA, CC BY- SA 3.0 IGO)
The space agency said mission specialists will continue doing performance-verification tests for the next couple of months begins.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.