|Mission type||Space observatory|
|Operator||European Space Agency|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||2032 (proposed)|
|Regime||Low Earth orbit|
|Diameter||Infrared: 70 cm; Cassegrain type|
|Wavelengths||Infrared, Gamma-rays and X-rays|
Transient High-Energy Sky and Early Universe Surveyor (THESEUS) is a space telescope mission proposal by the European Space Agency that would study gamma-ray bursts and X-rays for investigating the early universe. If developed, the mission would investigate star formation rates and metallicity evolution, as well as studying the sources and physics of reionization.
THESEUS is a mission concept that would monitor transient events in the high-energy Universe across the whole sky and over the entirety of cosmic history. In particular, it expects to make a complete census of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) from the Universe's first billion years, to help understand the life cycle of the first stars. THESEUS would provide real-time triggers and accurate locations of the sources, which could also be followed up by other space- or ground-based telescopes operating at complementary wavelengths.
The concept was selected in May 2018 as a finalist to become the fifth Medium-class mission (M5) of the Cosmic Vision programme by the European Space Agency (ESA). The other finalist was EnVision, a Venus orbiter. The winner, EnVision, was selected in June 2021 for launch in 2031.
The space observatory would study gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) and X-rays and their association with the explosive death of massive stars, supernova shock break-outs, black hole tidal disruption events, and magnetar flares. This can provide fundamental information on the cosmic star formation rate, the number density and properties of low-mass galaxies, the neutral hydrogen fraction, and the escape fraction of ultraviolet photons from galaxies.
The conceptual payload of THESEUS includes: