ESA’s new fast mission is ARRAKIHS


2 November 2022

ARRAKIHS has been selected as the new fast mission in ESA's Science Programme. By imaging faint galaxies in the nearby Universe, ARRAKIHS will provide important measurements to test open questions in cosmology.

ARRAKIHS will image about one hundred nearby galaxies and their surroundings, using innovative twin binocular assemblies of small telescopes, to characterize the number and nature of low-mass dwarf galaxies and stellar streams in their vicinity. This survey, in visible and infrared wavelengths, will far exceed what is currently possible from ground-based telescopes and will provide the possibility to make tests of the so-called ΛCDM cosmology as well as producing a dataset of significant legacy value.

"The space science community has again demonstrated a capacity to propose imaginative and innovative missions to address exciting questions in space science, within the boundary conditions of fast missions," says Günther Hasinger, ESA's Director of Science.

"Our new fast mission addresses a need for deep imaging on a large sample of nearby galaxies to tease out some of the ideas about how galactic structures form and evolve. ARRAKIHS is a welcome complement to the upcoming large space observatories, such as ESA's Euclid and NASA's Roman Space Telescope."

ARRAKIHS is a 'fast', or F-class mission. The 'fast' refers to the implementation time, with a total development duration from selection to launch readiness of less than 10 years. F-class missions are ESA-led.

Fast missions play an important role in providing flexibility in the Science Programme, allowing the science community to respond to opportunities arising from recent discoveries or breakthroughs in space science or to developments in technology.

Following a call for missions in December 2021, 19 summary proposals were submitted by the space science community, with four teams subsequently invited to provide more comprehensive proposals. At the Science Programme Committee (SPC) meeting on 2 November, ARRAKIHS was selected to move into a study phase. ARRAKIHS is scheduled for launch in the early 2030’s.

The ARRAKIHS (Analysis of Resolved Remnants of Accreted galaxies as a Key Instrument for Halo Surveys) proposal team comprises an international group of experts led by Rafael Guzmán (Instituto de Física de Cantabria, Spain).

Further details about the mission can be found in the ARRAKIHS mission proposal to ESA.

For more information, please contact:
Paul McNamara
Astronomy and Astrophysics Coordinator
Directorate of Science
European Space Agency
Email: Paul.McNamara