The first-ever mission to detect dark energy is underway, and scientists are hoping it reveals evidence of the expansion of the universe.

The Euclid Mission, led by the European Space Agency, will launch in 2020 to hunt for dark energy by using two instruments: a visible-light imager and a near-infrared spectrometer and photometer. These instruments will help the telescope peer into faint and faraway galaxies to create a dark energy model of the universe. The model will map out the distribution of galaxies and help scientists understand what lies between; dark energy.

An illustration of Euclid and it's state-of-the-art design. 

They theorize that up to 80 percent of the universe is made up of dark matter, manipulating the shapes of galaxies and expanding the universe further. This expansion is pushing the galaxies further away, stretching out their light wavelengths and making them harder to probe.

But, those distant galaxies are brighter in infrared light, so Euclid will be able to see what can’t be seen in visible light. Objects moving away from Earth will appear redder in the infrared images shot by Euclid, and objects moving closer will appear blue. High-resolution shots will help scientists see like they’ve never seen before.

“The U.S. Euclid team has overcome many technical hurdles along the way, and we are delivering superb detectors that will enable the collection of unprecedented data during the mission,” says Ulf Israelsson, the NASA Euclid project manager.

Euclid’s next stage of development will be a set of detectors for the near-infrared spectrometer and photometer. In total, Euclid will have 16 detectors. Final development will take place at the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille in France, where everything will be integrated and the spacecraft can go through testing before launch.

Photos via ESA/C. Carreau