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Herschel launch early next week(might uncover nibiru's hiding place)

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01/17/2009 01:56 PM
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Herschel launch early next week(might uncover nibiru's hiding place)
[link to herschel.jpl.nasa.gov]

More Than Meets the Eye

The far-infrared and submillimeter wavelengths at which Herschel will observe are considerably longer than the familiar rainbow of colors that the human eye can perceive. Yet, this is a critically important portion of the spectrum to scientists because it is the frequency range at which a large part of the universe radiates.

The constellation Orion and surrounding space in visible light. Moving the pointer over the image shows the infrared light image of the same region.

Much of the Universe consists of gas and dust that is far too cold to radiate in visible light or at shorter wavelengths such as x-rays. However, even at temperatures well below the most frigid spot on Earth, they do radiate at far-infrared and submillimeter wavelengths.

Stars and other cosmic objects that are hot enough to shine at optical wavelengths are often hidden behind vast dust clouds that absorb the visible light and reradiate it in the far-infrared and submillimeter.

There's a lot to see at these wavelengths, and much of it has been virtually unexplored. Earthbound telescopes are largely unable to observe this portion of the spectrum because most of this light is absorbed by moisture in the atmosphere before it can reach the ground. Previous space-based infrared telescopes have had neither the sensitivity of Herschel's large mirror, nor the ability of Herschel's three detectors to do such a comprehensive job of sensing this important part of the spectrum.

Two-thirds of Herschel's observation time will be available to the world scientific community, with the remainder reserved for the spacecraft's science and instrument teams.