Herschel Space Observatory

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Herschel Space Observatory
Herschel Space Observatory.jpg
Organization European Space Agency (ESA)
Location Lagrangian point L2
Wavelength 60-670 µm (far-infrared)
Telescope style Ritchey-Chrétien
Diameter 3,500 mm (140 in), f/0.5 (Primary Mirror)
Collecting area 9.6 m2 (103 sq ft)
Focal length 28.5 m (94 ft), f/8.7
Website herschel.esac.esa.int

The Herschel Space Observatory is a European Space Agency instrument. It is the largest infrared telescope ever put into orbit. Herschel is named after Sir William Herschel, the discoverer of the infrared spectrum, double stars, and planet Uranus.[1]

The device is sensitive to the far infrared and submillimetre short wavebands. It has a single mirror of 3.5 metres (11.5 ft) in diameter.[2][3][4]

The observatory was carried into orbit in May 2009. It is 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 can record ('see') the coldest and dustiest objects in space. For example, dusty galaxies just starting to form new stars.[5] The United States, through NASA, is working with in the ESA-built and operated observatory.[6] It is the fourth 'cornerstone' mission in the ESA science program, along with Rosetta, Planck, and the Gaia mission.

The instrument has four main aims:

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