ARRAKIHS, the first ESA’s Science Programme mission to be led by Spain

Spain will lead for the first time a mission of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Science Programme: ARRAKIHS, the new ESA F-mission to study dark matter in the Universe.

The mission ARRAKIHS is coordinated by the Institute of Physics of Cantabria (IFCA), a joint center of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and the University of Cantabria (UC), by a team of researchers whose Principal Investigator is Professor Rafael Guzmán, PhD., Professor at the University of Florida (UF) and researcher at IFCA.

As announced by ESA on 2 November 2022, ARRAKIHS has been selected as ESA’s next Fast mission (F-class) in ESA’s Science Programme, aiming to study the nature of dark matter in the Universe.

The ARRAKIHS proposal (an 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 2022 (Phase 1) and in July 2022 (Phase 2). The international consortium includes research centers from Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Sweden, Austria and the United States. In August, it received the support of the Ministry of Science and Innovation through its qualification under the ESA’s PRODEX programme, managed by the Centre for Technological and Industrial Development (CDTI).

The research team in Spain responsible for ARRAKIHS is composed of researchers from the Instituto de Física de Cantabria (IFCA), Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA), Instituto de Ciencias del Espacio (ICE-CSIC), Centro de Astrobiología (CAB, INTA-CSIC), Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM), Centro de Estudios de Física del Cosmos de Aragón (CEFCA) and Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC).

The selected mission proposes SATLANTIS’ iSIM technology as the main instrument, designing and developing two binocular visible and infrared cameras based on the iSIM-170 flight-proven model. The diffraction-limited optical performance of the iSIM cameras will observe a hundred galaxies similar to the Milky Way, with an unprecedent detail and depth, reaching a surface brightness 5-100 times deeper than the best images taken from ground-based observatories. The unique depth, resolution and field of view of the ARRAKIHS observations will provide key information to understand the origin and nature of dark matter in the Universe. By imaging faint satellite galaxies and stellar streams in the halo of nearby galaxies, ARRAKIHS will provide the key dataset needed to answer open questions in modern cosmology.

SATLANTIS is very proud to be a key technological partner of the ARRAKIHS scientific mission, accompanying the Spanish public partners of the mission and all the members of the international consortium from Austria, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA. Through its participation in ARRAKIHS, SATLANTIS, which was initially born for Universe exploration and later developed and proved its space technology for Earth Observation, is reconnecting to its original astrophysics’ domain.

The ARRAKIHS mission, whose launch is foreseen in 2030, represents a major astronomical milestone for the Spanish, European and international scientific network, being the first mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) Science Programme with science and technology led by Spain.

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