The Euclid telescope has a problem with its guidance system

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Euclid Space Telescope, launched in July this year to probe the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy, ran into problems during its operational phase. Although early calibration images looked good, the telescope has since run into problems with a tool that helps it lock onto specific stars, called a fine guide sensor, and position itself.

The fine guidance sensor is constantly failing to lock on to the stars, making it difficult to point the telescope in the right direction. When working properly, data from the fine guidance sensor goes to the spacecraft’s attitude and orbit control system, keeping it in the correct orientation. However, since it didn’t work as planned, the commissioning phase for the telescope has been extended so teams can investigate the issue.

ESA’s Euclid mission is designed to investigate the composition and evolution of the dark universe. The space telescope will create a better map of the universe’s large-scale structure across space and time by observing billions of galaxies spanning more than a third of the sky, up to 10 billion light-years away. Euclid explores how the universe has expanded and how structure has evolved over cosmic history, revealing more about the role of gravity and the nature of dark energy and dark matter. ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA. Background galaxies: NASA, ESA, and S. Beckwith (STScI) and HUDF Group, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

„The issue of Euclid’s best guidance is one we’ve all been concerned about. Teams from ESA’s Technical Heart (ESTEC), Mission Control (ESOC), Astronomy Center (ESAC) and industry have been working tirelessly day and night for months, and I can’t thank them enough for their commitment to solving the problem. Euclid Director of Operations Andreas Rudolf A Report. “I am relieved to say that the initial tests are good. We are finding many more stars in all our tests, and although it is too early to celebrate and more observations are needed, the signs are very encouraging.

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The teams have developed updated software to address the problem, and a software fix has worked on a test version of the spacecraft, which is kept under mission control. The update has now been sent to the telescope as well, and teams will test the telescope to see if it helps fix the problem.

„Obviously, this is where the real test of truth will be, because only scientific images can provide absolute certainty that Euclid’s mouse is working well,” said Giuseppe Rakka, Euclid project manager. „However, all the evidence so far makes us very optimistic. We will keep our fingers firmly crossed, but the resumption of the performance verification phase is getting closer every day.

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