Euclid Mission to Study Dark Universe Takes First Test Images
July 31st, 2023
This image was taken during commissioning of ESA’s Euclid spacecraft to check that the Near Infrared Spectrometer and Photometer (NISP) instrument is working as expected. NASA contributed hardware to the NISP instrument. Credit: ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA, CC BY- SA 3.0 IGO

The telescope took a picture of a glittering field of stars, indicating that it is doing well after a million-mile journey from Earth.

The two instruments aboard Euclid, an ESA (European Space Agency) spacecraft with NASA contributions, have captured their first test images. The results indicate that the space telescope will achieve the scientific goals that it has been designed for – and possibly much more.

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.”

Euclid launched July 1 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It has arrived at its destination about 1 million miles (1.5 million kilometers) from Earth, a vantage point known as the Second Lagrange Point (L2).

“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.

Given these test images, scientists and engineers behind the mission are confident that telescope and instruments are working well. Mission specialists will continue performance-verification tests for the next couple of months before science observations begin.

“After more than 11 years of designing and developing Euclid, it’s exhilarating and enormously emotional to see these first images,” says Euclid Project Manager Giuseppe Racca of ESA. “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.”

See more test images and read more from ESA

More About the Mission

Three NASA-supported science teams contribute to the Euclid mission. In addition to designing and fabricating the sensor-chip electronics for Euclid’s Near Infrared Spectrometer and Photometer (NISP) instrument, JPL led the procurement and delivery of the NISP detectors. Those detectors along with the sensor chip electronics were tested at NASA’s Detector Characterization Lab at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The Euclid NASA Science Center at IPAC (ENSCI), at Caltech in Pasadena, California, will archive the science data and support U.S.-based science investigations using Euclid data. JPL is a division of Caltech.

To learn more about Euclid, go here:

News Media Contact

Calla Cofield
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.