Portuguese research and technology will be present in the Athena mission, one of the major missions of the European Space Agency (ESA), through the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences (IA) and the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon (Sciences ULisboa).
The IA won the ESA contract to develop a precision optics system for the future high energy space observatory. For two years the IA will lead a consortium with three industries linked to the aerospace sector, two of which are Portuguese: FHP, which will develop the mechanical component of the system; and Evoleo, which is in charge of the electronic subsystems. IA is responsible for the design and development of the measurement system, design of the optical component and execution of the tests.
This consortium is one of the members of the Athena (Advanced Telescope for High-Energy Astrophysics) mission, which is part of ESA's long-term Cosmic Vision program. The Athena telescope, due to be launched in 2031, will make it possible to understand how black holes with the mass of millions of suns determined the formation of the first galaxies and the evolution of galaxies such as ours, or to help understand how these galaxies organized themselves into structures hundreds of millions of light-years across, and which are the "skeleton" of the universe.
More details about this project on the IA page.
Image credit: IRAP, CNES, ESA & ACO (telescope image) ; NASA/CXC/Univ of Missouri/M.Brodwin et al; NASA/STScI; JPL/CalTech (background image)