WiredGov Newswire (news from other organisations)
UK Space Agency: Euclid
Mapping the expansion of the Universe to better understand dark energy and matter. Launching in 2022 for a 6-year mission.
The Expanding Universe
Until 20-30 years ago, scientists thought that the Universe was composed of ordinary matter: protons, neutrons and electrons. Now we know that this accounts for only 4% of the Universe mass-energy budget. The rest is composed of two mysterious components, dark energy and dark matter, which are causing the expansion of the Universe to accelerate, and which cannot be adequately explained by our current knowledge of fundamental physics.
The UK Space Agency is funding research teams in 7 different institutions across the UK to contribute to the Euclid spacecraft. A team at University College London’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory is leading the development of one of the two science instruments on board, the visible imager (VIS), and researchers across the country are working to establish the complex data-processing capability to allow scientists to use the data that will eventually be sent back to Earth to study dark energy and dark matter.
What will Euclid do?
Euclid is a medium-class European Space Agency mission due to launch in 2022. Its objective is to better understand the nature of dark matter and dark energy by mapping the ‘Dark Universe’ and by accurately measuring the acceleration of the expansion of the Universe.
The Euclid spacecraft will have two scientific instruments on board that will use specialist techniques to answer key questions about our Universe.
- What is the distribution of dark matter in the Universe?
- What is the history of expansion of the Universe?
- What does this tell us about the nature of dark energy?
- How do large-scale structures form in the Universe?
What will the instruments be measuring?
The two techniques will be weak gravitational lensing and baryonic acoustic oscillation (BAOs). These will be used to measure galaxy shapes and distortions, telling us about the distribution and evolution of dark energy and dark matter.
Weak lensing will be used to measure distortions of galaxy images due to gravity. BAOs are wiggle patterns imprinted in the clustering of galaxies which act as a standard against which to measure the expansion of the Universe. Weak lensing in particular requires a visible imager which can achieve extremely high image quality – any optical distortion due to the instrument optical systems must be calibrated out so that any distortions which are measured will be due to gravity.
The scientific instruments
To study the nature of dark energy and dark matter, Euclid will carry two science instruments, each built by a consortium of European partners:
- a visible imager (VIS) led by the UK at the Mullard Space Science Lab (MSSL)
- a near infrared spectrometer and photometer (NISP, led by France)
The VIS Principal Investigator is Prof Mark Cropper at MSSL. The MSSL team has responsibility for managing the instrument consortium that has designed and built the various subsystems for VIS. MSSL is also directly responsible for the development of the detector chain of the instrument (the readout electronics receiving data from the sensors and their associated power supplies).
The Charge-coupled device (CCD) detectors are provided by Teledyne e2v in Chelmsford, under contract to ESA. The Flight Instrument was delivered to ESA for integration and testing in 2020 and will then begin being integrated with the spacecraft for the final environmental test campaign to confirm readiness for launch.
How is the UK involved?
During the 6-year mission the spacecraft will be bombarded by radiation in space, damaging the sensitive CCD detectors. To support the development at MSSL, the Open University has conducted modelling and simulations to understand how this radiation damage affects instrument performance. This will ensure that the science data can be interpreted accurately.
Euclid will generate an unprecedented volume of science data (850Gbit compressed data per day) and to cope with this, Euclid will employ K-band communications to provide the necessary rapid download rate.
In addition to the lead role on VIS, the UK also has a strong role on the development of the Ground Segment for Euclid. This includes a Science Data Centre in Edinburgh and the lead role on shear measurements and analysis, a critical element of Euclid science. Professor Andy Taylor of the Edinburgh Astronomy Technology Centre leads the development of the UK ground segment, with contributions from research teams at Oxford University, Cambridge University, University of Portsmouth, University College London, MSSL and Durham University.
- Terms of reference: Science Programme Advisory Committee (SPAC)
- LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna)
Latest News from
WiredGov Newswire (news from other organisations)
TUC – Covid occupational deaths expose “huge inequalities” in labour market and need for tougher safety rules26/01/2021 16:05:00
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady yesterday commented on the figures from the ONS, which show a higher rate of Covid-19 deaths among workers in low-paid and insecure jobs.
Audit Scotland - Council finances increased in 2019/20, but Covid-19 will intensify pressures26/01/2021 15:40:00
Funding received by councils from the Scottish Government increased by £500 million in 2019/20. But Covid-19 will drive large rises in costs and spending, combined with falling income.
CIPD - Unemployment continues its ominous ascent but is kept in check for now by the furlough scheme26/01/2021 14:40:00
CIPD responds to the latest labour market statistics
January blues for retailers as sales volumes fall - CBI26/01/2021 14:20:00
Retail sales volumes fell in the year to January, having been broadly stable in December, according to the latest monthly CBI Distributive Trades Survey.
Citizens Advice welcomes Ofgem proposal for new independent body to run Britain's energy system26/01/2021 13:40:00
Citizens Advice, the official consumer watchdog for energy, has welcomed the energy regulator Ofgem’s proposal for an independent body which will fully separate the running of Britain’s energy system from the National Grid, and lead the way towards net zero.
CIPD - Giving firms stronger role in shaping local FE provision is a key improvement to skills system but many employers will need support if they are to step-up26/01/2021 12:40:00
CIPD welcomes FE White Paper ambition to put employers at heart of the skills system but highlights need for support to help firms identify skills gaps and training needs
Black and minority ethnic (BME) workers have been hit much harder by job losses during the pandemic26/01/2021 12:15:00
Black and minority ethnic (BME) workers have been hit much harder by job losses during the pandemic than white workers new TUC figures have shown.
NHS Confederation - There are still variables which mean we could see a resurgence in Coronavirus cases26/01/2021 11:40:00
Darren Hughes, Director of the Welsh NHS Confederation responded to the latest Welsh Government update on the Coronavirus pandemic
UK Space Agency: UN and UK sign agreement to promote space sustainability26/01/2021 11:05:00
International efforts to protect future space activity have been given a boost thanks to a new partnership between the UN and the UK government.