ESA’s EUCLID to explore dark energy while NASA’a WFIRST is in doubt.

Just as the Nobel prize in physics is awarded for the discovery that points to dark energy, Europe’s space agency has announced that it will go ahead with it’s mission to map out the effects of dark energy on the distribution of galaxies over time. The mission christened EUCLID will be scheduled to launch in 2019 and will map the positions of galaxies out towards the edge of the observable universe. EUCLID was one of two missions that ESA announced yesterday under the banner “Dark and Bright“, the other being Solar Orbiter to launch in 2017.

ESA's EUCLID observatory

The news comes shortly after doubt was cast on the future of WFIRST a similar mission planned by NASA. The problem faced by the American Space Agency is that JWST, its ambitious next generation space-telescope, is over budget and absorbing funding from other projects.

The status of big science in the US has recently taken some big blows.  With the Tevatron bowing out to the superiority of Europe’s Large Hadron Collider and NASA’a manned space capability ending with the demise of the shuttle while China build’s up for a spectacular new space program, the days of US superiority in science seem to be fading into night. Many hopes now rest with the James-Webb Space Telescope which has the potential to be a ground breaking observatory especially for the exploration of the early universe, but the risk is high. The JWST is a complex instrument that will be sent to the Lagrange points far away from the Earth. Even if the US had a manned space program there would be no hope of servicing the mission as they did for the Hubble Space Telescope. It has to work first time and keep working. At least the American’s can still say they are bold.

9 Responses to ESA’s EUCLID to explore dark energy while NASA’a WFIRST is in doubt.

  1. I wonder why isn’t JWST assembled at the ISS. They could test everything in space and avoid a huge malfunction if they try to risk losing everything at one launch.

    Maybe they could even start science before the whole telescope is assembled and thus it would be much easier to justify the higher spending.

  2. Kea says:

    Thank goodness Washington listened to Louise, so the US doesn’t waste any more money. The Europeans will get what they asked for …

  3. Joseph Scheirich says:

    You’re right, it is possible, but still not easy. Based on the Dawn spacecraft’s performance, it took ~75 kg of propellant (xenon in this case) to accelerate a 1200 kg craft 4,ooo kilometers per hour. Translate that to the 6,200 kg JWST need to accelerate another 12,000 kph and you would need ~1100 kg of propellant to get it to its proper orbit. Double that if you want to get it back. And that doesn’t include the mass of the ion engine, the fuel, and the drag caused by the solar arrays (which would need to be five times larger than Dawn’s) interaction with the solar wind.

    • I guess it is worth in the end rather than risking 8billion dollars. The spacecraft Lisa will use 1100Kg of propeller for Ion drive to achieve L1 in 2013, according to the link I sent you. So, if JWST works first at LEO, there will be enough time to acquire experience with Lisa and mature it to do almost the same mission, the difference will be that it will be sent to L2.

      In fact, I was thinking in sending another Ion drive there when it is time for refurbishment.

  4. [...] Release (mehr und PMn von AIP und CAU sowie SpacePorts zum Solar Orbiter, MPIA PM, Nature Blog und Vixra zu Euclid und Physics World-/a> zu beiden Missionen. Gefällt mir:LikeSei der Erste, dem dieser [...]

  5. Tara SNF says:

    Tara SNF…

    [...]ESA’s EUCLID to explore dark energy while NASA’a WFIRST is in doubt. « viXra log[...]…

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