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Icing clouds the view of the Euclid space telescope

A thin layer of ice is clouding the view of the Euclid space telescope. Researchers have now begun de-icing the telescope, as the European Space Agency (ESA) announced on Tuesday. Swiss institutions are also involved in the Euclid mission.

Icing is a common phenomenon with space probes. However, it is a potential problem for the highly sensitive Euclid mission, according to the ESA.

According to the ESA, the researchers noticed that the telescope's vision deteriorated progressively as soon as it was put into operation. Euclid had repeatedly observed the same stars, but they always appeared dimmer.

De-icing the telescope, which is around 1.5 kilometers away, is no easy task: although the telescope has an on-board heating system to counteract icing, it has sensitive optical instruments on board, as the ESA explained. According to the ESA, some of them would not return to exactly the same state after being heated from around minus 140 degrees to minus 3 degrees Celsius and then cooled down.

Gradual heating

That is why ESA now wants to gradually switch on heating elements and constantly monitor how the ice layer on the telescope changes. The first step is to switch on heating elements on two mirrors. ESA considers the risk of damage to other components to be low. If the ice problem continues to worsen, further heating elements will be switched on gradually.

The aim of the mission is to create the most comprehensive 3D map of the universe to date. The probe will collect data on billions of galaxies. The ESA wants to take a look into the past of the universe and explore its development over the last ten billion years. It also aims to gain insights into dark matter and dark energy in space. In addition to the University of Zurich, the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne and the University of Geneva are also involved in Euclid from Switzerland. The first color images of the telescope were published in November.

©Keystone/SDA

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