Planck & Herschel Space Observatories launched today May 14, 2009Posted by jcconwell in Astronomy, Observatory, satellites.
Tags: Astronomy, Observatory
Two for the price of one! An Ariane V rocket launched both the Herschel and the Planck orbiting observatories today for the European Space Agency.
The Herschel mission will cover the full far infrared and submillimetre waveband. Its telescope, at 3.5 meters width, will have the largest mirror ever deployed in space. The light will be focused onto three instruments with detectors kept at temperatures below 2 K. The instruments will be cooled with liquid helium, boiling away in a near vacuum at a temperature of approximately 1.4 K. The 2,000 litres of helium on board the satellite will limit its operational lifetime. The satellite is expected to be operational for at least 3 years.
The Planck space observatory is designed to observe the anisotropies of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) over the entire sky, using high sensitivity and angular resolution. Planck was built in the Cannes Mandelieu Space Center and created as the third Medium-Sized Mission (M3) of the European Space Agency (ESA)