Herschel Space Observatory
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.
|Names||Far Infrared and Submillimetre Telescope|
|Mission type||Space telescope|
|Operator||ESA / NASA|
|Mission duration||Planned: 3 years |
Final: 4 years, 1 month, 2 days
|Manufacturer||Thales Alenia Space|
|Launch mass||3,400 kg (7,500 lb)|
|Payload mass||Telescope: 315 kg (694 lb)|
|Dimensions||7.5 m × 4.0 m (25 ft × 13 ft)|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||14 May 2009, 13:12:02UTC|
|Rocket||Ariane 5 ECA|
|Launch site||Guiana Space Centre,|
|End of mission|
|Deactivated||17 June 2013, 12:25UTC|
(1,500,000 km / 930,000 mi)
|Diameter||3.5 m (11 ft) |
Template:F/ (primary mirror)
|Focal length||28.5 m (94 ft) |
|Collecting area||9.6 m2 (103 sq ft)|
|Wavelengths||55 to 672 µm (far infrared)|
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. The United States, through NASA, worked with the ESA to build and operate the observatory. 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:
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- Amos, Jonathan (14 June 2009). "ESA launches Herschel and Planck space telescopes". BBC. Retrieved 3 December 2010.
- "ESA launches Herschel and Planck space telescopes". Aerospaceguide. Retrieved 3 December 2010.
- ESA Science & Technology: Herschel. Retrieved on 28 July 2010
- "NSSDC Spacecraft Details: Herschel Space Observatory". NASA. Archived from the original on 27 December 2015. Retrieved 3 July 2010.