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The Herschel and Planck Space Observatories

Discussion in 'Science & Technology' started by The Scotsman, May 14, 2009.

  1. The Scotsman

    The Scotsman Well-Known Member

    Apr 1, 2008
    Likes Received:
    South of the Haggis Munching Line
    World's largest telescope launches in bid to reveal innermost secrets of Universe

    Two European space satellites, including the world's largest, were blasted into orbit in a bid to see further than man has ever seen before.

    The Herschel and Planck space observatories were both launched on the same Ariane 5 rocket from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

    Together costing around two billion euro (£1.79 billion), the two missions are among the most ambitious undertaken by the European Space Agency.

    Herschel, which will view the universe at far-infrared wavelengths, carries the largest telescope ever to be flown in space.

    Peering through obscuring clouds of dust, its 3.5 meter-wide mirror will capture light from the earliest stages of star birth and galaxy formation.

    It will also study debris ejected by dying stars which provide the raw material for planets like the Earth.

    British scientists head the international consortium which designed and built Herschel's Spire instrument, a sophisticated camera that operates simultaneously at different wavelengths.

    Planck will study the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) - faintly glowing radiation left behind by the Big Bang which gave birth to the universe more than 13 billion years ago.

    The observatory will help scientists understand unresolved mysteries about the universe - including the nature of dark matter and dark energy. The invisible material and force make up most of the mass andenergy of the cosmos yet almost nothing is known about them.

    Planck scientists have not ruled out finding evidence of a pre-Big Bang state of existence - or even the signature of another hidden universe. This would support the "multiverse" theory that suggests our universe is only one of many.



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