Steve Lord, a graduate of UMass Amherst in Astronomy and Electrical and Computer Engineering, who now works at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center, Jet Propulsion Lab at Cal Tech in Pasadena, CA, sent me this email:
Today [Tomorrow] - On the same day when the Space Shuttle astronauts reach NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to repair it and give it 5 more years of life, a new telescope will be launched from Kourou, French Guiana, South America:
The Herschel Space Observatory:
Herschel was built by 25 European countries with some help from the US - 1000 people x 10 years and 1 billion dollars. The US (NASA) gave 20% in instrumentation. I have worked on Herschel exclusively for 10 years.
Herschel (and another telescope, Planck) will be launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) and for a month steered to its Sun orbital position located five times further than the Moon.
The Herschel telescope is the largest telescope to be put into space by far, having more than twice the collecting surface area of the Hubble.
Herschel's instruments are cooled with liquid helium to near zero -273 C and the large mirror cools to -200C.
Herschel will observe the "cool" Universe for 3.5-5 years studing the origin of the Universe and the prebiotic chemistry taking place in space.
Herschel Launch time:
Thursday 14 May*/ /*by the French Aerospace Company
- Trois, deux, un
6:12 AM PST
9:12 AM EST
10:12 AM Rio Janeiro
2:12 PM GMT
3:12 PM CET
6:12 PM India
9:12 PM China
Watch the launch live here (it takes 25 min of burn) http://www.videocorner.tv/
Here are some Herschel info links:
Links from the European Space Agency (ESA) on
the Herschel and Planck Observatories:
And the launch campaign: