Herschel and Planck have a launch window confirmed: May 14th (shortly after lunchtime here in the UK). They will be taken up on board an Ariane 5 from ESA’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Herschel Space Observatory has the largest single mirror ever built for a space telescope. Herschel’s mission is to collect long-wavelength radiation from some of the coldest and most distant objects in the Universe. In addition, Herschel will be the only space observatory to cover a spectral range from the far infrared to sub-millimetre – an ideal regime for my own area of study: star formation.
Herschel will be launched along with Planck, ESA’s microwave observatory which will study the Cosmic Microwave Background. Planck is designed to image the anisotropies of the Cosmic Background Radiation Field over the whole sky, with unprecedented sensitivity and angular resolution.
Cardiff University is heavily involved and will be holding launch events on the day, including a live video feed (with nibbles). Both Herschel and Planck can be found on Twitter. I will attempt to liveblog from Cardiff on the day, and I’m sure that many others will do the same around Europe.