Press Release

Qinetiq supplies technology for dark matter observation

By SpaceRef Editor
September 30, 2014
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QinetiQ has been awarded an initial contract worth up to €2.3 million, to supply a critical component of the Euclid space telescope developed by Airbus Defence and Space in Toulouse and due to be launched in 2020. QinetiQ will be supplying a baffle, which sits on top of the telescope and which prevents stray light to enter into the optics. The baffle will as such increase the effectiveness of the telescope.

The Euclid mission is developed under the leadership of the European Space Agency (ESA) with Thales Alenia Space Turin as Prime Contractor for the spacecraft. This mission will investigate the “dark energy” that causes the accelerated expansion of the universe. It will also search for the invisible source matter that constitutes a quarter of the entire mass-energy of the universe and that is dubbed “dark matter” by scientists.

The baffle, developed by QinetiQ, is a black cylindrical structure at the front of the telescope that prevents stray light out of the instrument’s optics, making it possible to achieve the very stringent image quality requirements that will allow the investigation of the nature of dark energy and of the dark matter.

Engineers used their expertise to develop a unique aluminium round structure capable of resisting temperatures as low as -200?C and weighing less than 60 kilograms.

Malika De Ridder, project manager for QinetiQ said “The combination of the volume, mass and temperature in space requires a specially adapted model. The module is 2.60 metres long with a diameter of 1.80 metres, so a lot of technological ingenuity was needed to keep the weight down, which our engineers were able to achieve”.

QinetiQ started building a prototype in May this year and is due to be completed by the end of 2016. The launch of the Euclid module is scheduled for 2020, and the module will remain in space for six years, sending 800 gigabytes of data back to Earth every day.

QinetiQ developed its first telescope baffle ten years ago and has developed an unrivalled reputation for its unique, lightweight design. QinetiQ is also currently developing a telescope baffle for the Cheops satellite, which will detect and analyse planets in other solar systems in 2018.

SpaceRef staff editor.