Herschel Space Observatory

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Herschel Space Observatory
Artist's impression of the Herschel spacecraft
NamesFar Infrared and Submillimetre Telescope
Mission typeSpace telescope
OperatorESA / NASA
COSPAR ID2009-026A
SATCAT no.34937
Mission durationPlanned: 3 years
Final: 4 years, 1 month, 2 days[1]
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerThales Alenia Space
Launch mass3,400 kg (7,500 lb)[2]
Payload massTelescope: 315 kg (694 lb)[2]
Dimensions7.5 m × 4.0 m (25 ft × 13 ft)[2]
Power1 kW
Start of mission
Launch date14 May 2009, 13:12:02 UTC (2009-05-14UTC13:12:02)
RocketAriane 5 ECA
Launch siteGuiana Space Centre,
French Guiana
End of mission
Deactivated17 June 2013, 12:25 UTC (2013-06-17UTC12:26)[3]
Orbital parameters
Reference systemL2 point
(1,500,000 km / 930,000 mi)
Main telescope
Diameter3.5 m (11 ft)
f/0.5 (primary mirror)[4]
Focal length28.5 m (94 ft)
Collecting area9.6 m2 (103 sq ft)
Wavelengths55 to 672 µm (far infrared)
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The Herschel Space Observatory was a space observatory built by the European Space Agency (ESA). It was the largest infrared telescope ever put into orbit until the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope. Herschel was named after Sir William Herschel, the discoverer of the infrared spectrum, double stars, and planet Uranus.[5]

The device was sensitive to the far infrared and sub-millimetre short wavebands. It had a single mirror of 3.5 metres (11.5 ft) in diameter.[6][7][8]

The observatory was carried into orbit in May 2009. It was at the second Lagrangian point (L2) of the Earth-Sun system. At these points, 1,500,000 kilometres (930,000 miles) from the Earth, gravity balances, so the object stays in place.

The Herschel Observatory could record ('see') the coldest and dustiest objects in space. For example, dusty galaxies just starting to form new stars.[9] The United States, through NASA, worked with the ESA to build and operate the observatory.[10] It was the fourth 'cornerstone' mission in the ESA science program, along with Rosetta, Planck, and Gaia.

The observatory was designed to investigate four main topics:

References[change | change source]

  1. Amos, Jonathan (29 April 2013). "Herschel space telescope finishes mission". BBC News. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Herschel: Vital stats". European Space Agency. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
  3. Amos, Jonathan (17 June 2013). "Herschel telescope switched off". BBC News. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "The Herschel Space Observatory". Swiss Physical Society. March 2009. Archived from the original on 21 November 2015. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
  5. "Revealing the invisible: Caroline and William Herschel". ESA. 18 June 2000. Retrieved 22 July 2010.
  6. "ESA launches Herschel and Planck space telescopes". Euronews. Archived from the original on 28 February 2010. Retrieved 3 December 2010.
  7. Amos, Jonathan (14 June 2009). "ESA launches Herschel and Planck space telescopes". BBC. Retrieved 3 December 2010.
  8. "ESA launches Herschel and Planck space telescopes". Aerospaceguide. Retrieved 3 December 2010.
  9. ESA Science & Technology: Herschel. Retrieved on 28 July 2010
  10. "NSSDC Spacecraft Details: Herschel Space Observatory". NASA. Archived from the original on 27 December 2015. Retrieved 3 July 2010.

Other websites[change | change source]

Media related to Herschel (space telescope) at Wikimedia Commons