The European Space Agency (ESA) has officially approved the selection of the ARRAKIHS mission, the first ESA Science Programme mission to be led from Spain, with the aim of launching it in 2030.
the Czech Republic.
Specifically, the mission is coordinated by the Institute of Physics of Cantabria (IFCA), a joint centre of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and the University of Cantabria (UC).
Its main objective is the study of dark matter in the universe which, according to different cosmological observables, could be up to five times more abundant than ordinary matter. Due to its properties, its direct detection is very complex and, for now, we are only aware of its existence through its gravitational effects.
It is precisely these effects on satellites orbiting in the halo of galaxies such as our Milky Way that ARRAKIHS will be able to discover and characterise in order to reveal the nature of dark matter.
The ARRAKIHS mission (acronym for “Analysis of Resolved Remnants of Accreted galaxies as a Key Instrument for Halo Surveys”) was submitted to ESA’s Fast Missions Opportunities programme in February this year, and an international consortium is participating in its development, with research centres from Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Sweden, Austria and the United States, in response to the announcement of opportunity published by ESA in December 2021.
Subsequently, in July, it received support from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation through its qualification in ESA’s PRODEX programme, managed by the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI).
An astronomical milestone
For the mission, the company Satlantis has designed and developed a binocular visible and infrared camera that will make it possible to obtain images of one hundred galaxies similar to the Milky Way, reaching a surface brightness 5-100 times deeper than the best images taken from ground-based observatories.
The depth, resolution and large field of the images provided by ARRAKIHS will be an astronomical milestone and will provide key information on the understanding of dark matter in the Universe.
Simulation of the halo of one of the galaxies to be observed in the ARRAKIHS missionSimulation of the halo of one of the galaxies to be observed in the ARRAKIHS mission, the first mission of the European Space Agency’s Science Programme led from Spain (Alex Camazón (ARRAKIHS Consortium))More information
European Space Agency (ESA) website