NASA has joined forces with the European Space Agency (ESA) to launch a telescope into space in order to better understand dark energy and its effect on the Universe
Not content with building regular telescopes here on Earth, the ESA is planning to fire one into the cosmos in order to better understand how dark matter has affected the Universe's evolution.
In order to accomplish this rather lofty task, our own European Space Agency has joined forces with the North American Space Agency for the "Euclid" mission, set to begin in 2020. The plan is for the telescope to map and measure around two billion galaxies over the course of six years. In layman's terms, that's about one third of the sky.
The cost of the mission, which involves building, launching and operating the Euclid telescope is expected to be £480m with NASA agreeing to contribute infared detectors to the telescope.
"We have negotiated a detailed text with Nasa, which both parties consider final, and it is ready for signature," said Dr Fabio Favata, Esa's head of science planning told the BBC.
"It will mean a small, commensurate number of US scientists will be welcomed into the Euclid Consortium."
Scientists know that dark matter exists in the Universe because, although it can't be seen, it's gravitational pull has been observed on other objects - essentially holding galaxies together.
Euclid will map the distribution and pattern of galaxies in 3D during the mission with an optical digital camera being produced by the UK. According to the BBC it's one of the biggest such cameras ever put into space. The total UK contribution to the mission stands at £80m.