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Euclid space telescope’s Near-Infrared instrument ready to draw a 3-D map of galaxies of the distant Universe
09/07/2020
 
The Euclid mission from the European Space Agency (ESA), that aims to study more than a billion galaxies, is a step closer to launch as its two instruments are now built and fully tested. One of them is the complex Near-Infrared Spectrometer and Photometer instrument (NISP) delivered by an international consortium coordinated by France, with partners from Italy, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Norway and the United States. 

Once Euclid is launched from French Guiana in 2022, the NISP instrument will feed the world largest near-infrared wide field camera put into space and will deliver near-infrared photometry, spectra and redshifts of tens of million distant galaxies providing a detailed description of the 3-dimensional structure of the universe, and its evolution as function of look back time.
 
Euclid has a 1.2-metre mirror telescope that is designed to work at both visible and near-infrared wavelengths. It will collect light from distant cosmic objects and feed it into NISP and the second instrument, the VISible instrument (VIS), both working in parallel and observing the exact same regions of the sky at each exposure of the telescope. 

The Euclid mission will survey the 3-D distribution of galaxies and dark matter and map the geometry of the Universe with the aim of making accurate measurements of the mysterious Dark Matter and Dark Energy, which make up most of the cosmos. Noone yet knows what Dark Energy is, and Euclid will be the most powerful tool for cosmologists and astronomers looking to find out. 

Dr. Yannick Mellier (Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, CNRS/Sorbonne Université and CEA/IRFU, Saclay), lead of the 1500-strong Euclid Consortium of which NISP is a part, said: “Euclid will revolutionise our knowledge of the Universe by making the most accurate measurements of Dark Matter and Dark Energy, testing whether Einstein's theory of General Relativity requires modification, weighing neutrinos and exploring the details of how galaxies evolve.” 

NISP is composed of several subsystems that were designed, built and tested by a team of astronomers and engineers from several laboratories of the Euclid Consortium with the help and support from several institutions. They are the Centre National d’Etudes Spatial (CNES, France), the Astronomy and Particle Physics Departments of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS, France), the Institute for Research on the Fundamental laws of the Universe (IRFU), the Research Division of the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique (CEA, France), the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI, Italy), the Istituto Nazionale Astrofisica (INAF, Italy), the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN, Italy), the Deutsches Zentrum für LuftundRaumfahrt (DLR, Germany), the Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik (MPE, Germany), the Max-Plank-Institut für Astronomie (MPIA, Germany), the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (MINECO, Spain), the Institut de Física d’Altes Energies - The Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (IFAE-BIST, Spain), the IEEC – CSIC (The Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia – The Spanish Research Council) with the research unit ICE — Institute of Space Sciences, Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena (Spain), the University of Oslo (UiO, Norway), the Norwegian Space Agency (Norway), the Niels Bohr Institute (Denmark), the Technical University of Denmark (DTU, Denmark), and NASA / JPL (USA).
 
Thierry Maciasze (CNES/Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille, LAM), NISP-instrument project manager, said: "The international NISP team in the Euclid Consortium and industries has made an incredible quasi perfect job to design, develop and test this challenging complex instrument. The delivery of NISP is however not the end of the story for the NISP team. Many major activities have to be completed with NISP at satellite level. We are looking forward to seeing the first light in flight demonstrating the excellent performances of the instrument." 

The NISP instrument, which is being built by a consortium of nationally funded institutes led by LAM, is dedicated to making distance measurements and near-infrared photometry of galaxies. With the VIS instrument, it will allow Euclid’s data to be turned into the largest, most accurate 3D survey of the Universe ever conducted. 

Now that the instruments have been delivered to ESA, Thales Alenia Space and Airbus Defense and Space, they will be integrated first with the telescope and next with the rest of the payload module and the satellite, which will take several months to ensure everything is precisely aligned and electronically communicating. 

It has been a long journey getting this far. Euclid was selected for implementation in 2011, having already undergone almost five years of studies. While there is still a lot of hard work and testing ahead, the delivery of the instruments and telescope means that the spacecraft is now really beginning to come together. 

Links

- IEEC
- European Space Agency main site
- European Space Agency Euclid site
- Euclid Consortium main site

More information

Euclid is an ESA medium class astronomy and astrophysics space mission. By making use of both weak gravitational lensing, which measures the distortion of distant galaxies caused by intervening matter, and baryonic acoustic oscillations, based on measurements of the clustering of galaxies, the mission will capture a 3D picture of the evolving distribution of both dark and ordinary (or baryonic) matter in the cosmos. This will enable scientists to reconstruct the past few billion years of the Universe's expansion history, estimating the acceleration caused by the mysterious dark energy. ESA selected Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor for the construction of the satellite and its Service Module, with Airbus Defence and Space chosen to develop the Payload Module, including the telescope. 

Euclid comprises two instruments: the visible instrument (VIS), and the near-infrared spectrometer and photometer (NISP). The Euclid Consortium is a collaboration of nationally funded scientists, engineers and managers responsible for the definition of the scientific mission and the provision of the scientific instruments and data processing. The VIS instrument is being built by a consortium of nationally funded institutes led by UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL), UK. The NISP instrument is being built by a consortium of nationally funded institutes led by the Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille (LAM) in France.

The Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC — Institut d’Estudis Espacials de Catalunya) promotes and coordinates space research and technology development in Catalonia for the benefit of society. IEEC fosters collaborations both locally and worldwide and is an efficient agent of knowledge, innovation and technology transfer. As a result of over 20 years of high-quality research, done in collaboration with major international organisations, IEEC ranks among the best international research centers, focusing on areas such as: astrophysics, cosmology, planetary science, and Earth Observation. IEEC’s engineering division develops instrumentation for ground- and space-based projects, and has extensive experience in working with private or public organisations from the aerospace and other innovation sectors.  

IEEC is a private non-profit foundation, governed by a Board of Trustees composed of Generalitat de Catalunya and four other institutions that each have a research unit, which together constitute the core of IEEC R&D activity: the University of Barcelona (UB) with the research unit ICCUB — Institute of Cosmos Sciences; the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) with the research unit CERES — Center of Space Studies and Research; the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) with the research unit CTE — Research Group in Space Sciences and Technologies; the Spanish Research Council (CSIC) with the research unit ICE — Institute of Space Sciences. IEEC is integrated in the CERCA network (Centres de Recerca de Catalunya).

Image

PR_Image1: NISP (cold part) 
Caption: NISP (cold part) before thermal Multi Layer installation. The NISP detector system with its 16 near-infrared detectors is on the left. The filter and grism wheels are inside the box on the far right in front of the optical assembly
Image source: ICE

Contact

For more information or to speak to the researchers involved, please contact:

NISP technical: 
Thierry Maciaszek (thierry.maciaszek@lam.fr / thierry.maciaszek@cnes.fr

NISP science: 
Spectroscopy : Anne Ealet (anne.ealet@cppm.fr)
Photometry : Knud Jahnke (jahnke@mpia.de)

For information about the Euclid Consortium or the Euclid mission, please contact Audrey Le Reun (audrey.le_reun@iap.fr, +33 (0) 173 775 523) or Yannick Mellier (mellier@iap.fr).

IEEC Communication Office
Barcelona, Spain

Ana Montaner Pizà
E-mail: comunicacio@ieec.cat 
 
Attached Documents
Generalitat de CatalunyaUniversitat de BarcelonaUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaUniversitat Politècnica de CatalunyaConsejo Superior de Investigaciones CientíficasCentres de Recerca de Catalunya