Creeping ice clouding vision of Europe space telescope Euclid | Space

Stars Sparkle In One O.jpg

Stars sparkle in one of the first images taken by Euclid — but ice is clouding the space telescope’s vision.

Scientists are trying to melt a thin layer of ice that is increasingly clouding the vision of the “dark universe detective” space telescope Euclid, the European Space Agency said on Tuesday.

It is the latest of several technical setbacks for the wide-eyed telescope, which blasted off into space in July on a mission to chart a third of the sky.

By doing so, the ESA hopes Euclid will reveal out more about the nature of dark matter and dark energy, which are thought to make up 95 percent of the universe but remain shrouded in mystery.

During checks in November, the team on the ground first noticed that they were losing a little light coming into the telescope’s visible light imager, Euclid instrument operations scientist Ralf Kohley told AFP.

After digging into the data, they believe the problem is a layer of ice—thought to be just the width of a strand of DNA—that is building up on the telescope’s optical surfaces.

“It’s a big problem,” Kohley acknowledged.

But researchers have been working on it, Kohley said, adding that he had no doubt Euclid would be able to finish its mission.

Keeping out water is a common problem for all spacecraft.

Despite best efforts on the ground, a tiny amount of water absorbed during a spacecraft’s assembly on Earth can smuggle its way to space.

Faced with the cold vastness of space, the water molecules freeze to the first surface they can—in this case, some may have landed on the Euclid’s mirrors.

Thin ice

Shortly after the telescope launched, scientists used its on-board heaters to…

read more phys.org

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