Euclid ready for space after the thermal vacuum tests performed at CSL

In Research

Airbus engineers have just completed a series of performance tests on the Euclid telescope, one of the major Science missions of the European Space Agency (ESA). The Centre Spatial de Liège was designated as the centre of expertise for these tests. After 60 days of intensive vacuum tests, EUCLID has just emerged from the largest vacuum tank of the CSL and is now ready to evolve in the extreme space environment.


n M-class space mission of ESA's Cosmic Vision programme, the Euclid telescope aims to help us for better understanding how our Universe came to be by making measurements related to dark matter and dark energy. Like all telescopes, Euclid has to undergo an important series of tests before it can be sent into space. The CSL, a research centre of the University of Liège, has provided Airbus with the necessary infrastructure for these tests, with the vacuum chamber (FOCAL-5, a 5m diameter vacuum tank with hyper-cold thermal panels and extreme cleanliness) enabling the instrument to be calibrated before its launch.

The payload module was integrated in the largest vacuum tank (FOCAL-5) at CSL for 60 days where it underwent intensive testing. In this chamber, Euclid experienced simulated space conditions in a vacuum environment, with the structure cooled down to -180°C, the same temperature at which it will operate once in space. Locally, an environment close to -260°C was even simulated. The purpose of these tests is to verify that the telescope and instruments are functioning as expected after all components have been assembled and connected. Any defects in the system must be resolved before Euclid is launched into space, where physical repairs are obviously impossible.

After 60 days in vacuum and seven months into CSL clean rooms, engineers from Airbus and CSL released Euclid from this austere environment on Wednesday 29 September, giving the green light for the rest of the mission. The ESA's Euclid mission has reached a new milestone in its development," says Christophe Grodent, head of programmes at CSL. Indeed, the telescope has resisted and responded very well to the extreme tests it has just undergone over the last two months." 

"We are very pleased with the results of the tests, which revealed that the telescope is in good condition," said Alexander Short, Euclid's mission and payload manager." The telescope will leave Liege early next week for Turin, Italy, where the next important step, the integration of the telescope with the service module to form the spacecraft that will take it into space, will begin.

Euclid will be launched from Europe's spaceport in French Guiana, with a launch window opening in late 2022. It will orbit the second Sun-Earth Lagrange point (L2), located 1.5 million kilometers directly "behind" the Earth as seen from the Sun.

Read ESA Press release


Euclid telescope ready for extreme space environment

At Centre Spatial de Liège (CSL), the payload module (containing the telescope and scientific instruments) was packed in a thermal tent, after which it was loaded into a large vacuum chamber where it has been submitted to intensive testing. Euclid experienced simulated space conditions in vacuum conditions with the payload module cooled to -180°C, the same temperature it will operate at once in space.



Christophe Grodent

Sylvie Liebecq

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