Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space is awarded the Euclid Payload Module contract by ESA

Airbus Defence and Space will provide a fully integrated Payload Module carrying a sophisticated telescope and instruments

Euclid Payload Module will deliver cutting edge science, mapping the geometry of the dark universe in unprecedented detail

The telescope builds on Airbus Defence and Space’s world-leading expertise in Silicon Carbide technology for space – already proven in orbit on ESA’s Herschel mission

Airbus Defence and Space, Europe’s leading space technology company, has been awarded the Payload Module contract for the European Space Agency’s (ESA) future astronomy mission Euclid, due for launch in 2020. Airbus Defence and Space will deliver a fully integrated module incorporating a 1.2 metre diameter silicon carbide (SiC) telescope and housing the mission’s science instruments.  Airbus Defence and Space is a world-leader in SiC technology – as payload leader for the ESA missions Herschel and Gaia. Herschel has been delivering unique science since 2009 and Gaia is scheduled for launch in 2013.

Euclid is the second “Medium Class” mission in ESA’s Cosmic Vision programme. With the ultimate goal to understand the origin of the Universe’s accelerating expansion, Euclid will map the geometry of the dark universe to an unprecedented accuracy. Euclid is unique in the combination of its two methods for measuring that geometry, namely weak gravitational lensing and galaxy clustering.

Weak gravitational lensing is observed by measuring very precisely any distortion to the images of galaxies caused by invisible matter between them and the Earth. Using this and the distribution of galaxies in space and how that has evolved over cosmological time, allows Euclid to help scientists take a step towards answering questions about the nature of dark energy and dark matter.

Euclid will collect deep and high resolution images of the sky by rotating the spacecraft once every 80 minutes. Within 6 years of observation, covering more than one third of the entire sky, Euclid will measure the shapes of, and distances to, more than 2 billion galaxies.

The key features of the Euclid Payload Module are:

  • A lightweight Silicon Carbide (SiC) telescope with an excellent thermal stability and operating at 130K (-143° Celsius), making it invisible to near infrared wavelengths.
  • A 1.2 meter diameter mirror permitting diffraction limited observation of galaxies as faint as magnitude 24.5.
  • A three-mirror Korsch telescope design supplying light to its two scientific instruments, the Visible Imager (VIS), and the Near-Infrared Spectrophotometer (NISP).
  • The VIS & NISP instruments are maintained in a very cold environment at 135K (-138° Celsius). The VIS & NISP instruments are developed by the Euclid Consortium and delivered to Airbus Defence and Space by ESA.



About Airbus Defence and Space

Together, pioneering excellence

Airbus Defence and Space is the number one company in Europe for space technologies and the third in the world. It is the only global company that covers the full range of civil and defence space systems, equipment and services.

In 2012, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover over €5.8 billion and 18,000 employees worldwide.

Its three business units are: Airbus Defence and Space, the European prime contractor for launchers, orbital systems and space exploration; Airbus Defence and Space, a leading provider of satellite system solutions, including spacecraft, ground segments, payloads and equipment; Airbus Defence and Space, the Space services partner for critical missions, providing comprehensive fixed and mobile solutions covering secure and commercial satcoms and networks, and bespoke geo-information services, worldwide.

Airbus Defence and Space is a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2012, the Group – comprising Airbus, Airbus Defence and Space, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of €56.5 billion and employed a workforce of over 140,000.


Press contacts

Jeremy Close (Airbus Defence and Space UK) Tel.: +44 (0)1 438 77 3872
Gregory Gavroy (Airbus Defence and Space FR) Tel.: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 32
Ralph Heinrich (Airbus Defence and Space GER) Tel.: +49 (0) 89 607 33971
Francisco Lechón (Airbus Defence and Space SP) Tel.: +34 91 586 37 41

Airbus Defence and Space