Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Space Telescopes Herschel and Planck ready for launch

Let's hope this €1.5 billion (€3 per European) ESA project will have a safe trip :) Here some details for the space telescope/cosmology folks ;) Info from wiki and ESA website.

Planck is a space observatory designed to observe the anisotropies of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) over the entire sky, using high sensitivity and angular resolution. Mass: 1900 kg Orbit: Lissajous orbit about the second Lagrange point of the Earth-Sun system (L2), with an average amplitude of about 400 000 km. Objectives:

The Herschel Space Observatory is a European Space Agency (ESA) mission originally proposed in 1982 by a consortium of European scientists Mass: 3400 kg Orbit: Lissajous orbit about the second Lagrange point of the Earth-Sun system (L2). Objectives: Herschel will specialise in collecting light from objects in our Solar System as well as the Milky Way and even extragalactic objects billions of light-years away, such as newborn galaxies, and is charged with four primary areas of investigation:


cybrbeast said...

Wow awesome instruments that will do a lot of good for science and pretty cheap at €3 per European I'd say.
But why launch them on the same rocket? At least spread the risk, if this thing fails it's so much damage. And Ariane has failed a few times before.

cybrbeast said...

Herschel has the biggest mirror ever deployed in space at 3.5m. Also the mission might not last much longer than 3 years because then it will runs out of its 2000L of liquid helium, used to cool the instruments to below 2K.
I see now why they are launched on the same rocket because they both have to travel to the same lagrange point, but still, risky...

annom said...

Launch was successful and telescopes show nominal data so far, they will start their real work in 2 months.

ESA thinks they have fixed all major errors after the last Ariane 5 failure. The last 30 launches were successful so that's some reason to be confident. Still a lot of things that can go wrong during all stages and it's not easy to send a repair mission to the lagrange point. It's not possible with the Space Shuttle because it doesn't have the fuel to return to Earth.