ESA Awards Major Euclid Contract
After years of planning a space mission, the awarding of contracts for actual construction to industry marks a major step. This step has now been taken for the Euclid mission, a space telescope slated for launch in 2020 which is set to explore the dark side of our cosmos: The ubiquitous dark matter, which can only be detected indirectly, but whose gravitational attraction plays a key role for the structure of galaxies and galaxy clusters, and dark energy, which is responsible for the fact that our universe not only expands, but accelerates its expansion.
Now, ESA has announced that the French-Italian aerospace company Thales Alenia Space will be the prime contractor for the Euclid spacecraft. Last month, Astrium Toulouse had been named lead contractor for the telescope the spacecraft will carry. This is good news for the scientists and engineers working on Euclid – including the Euclid group at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy: MPIA is part of the team for the scientific instrument NISP and, with funding from the German space agency DLR, will construct the calibration source for Euclid's precise measurements of brightness (photometry), as well as the infrared filter. MPIA is also the lead coordinator for the Euclid Calibration Group, creates simulations for the NISP instrument, hosts the mission's photometric instrument scientists and is already preparing for the scientific use of Euclid data – from cosmology and galaxy evolution to stellar astrophysics and asteroid research.