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Successful Launch of ESA's Herschel and Planck - European Space Agency

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05/14/2009 02:26 PM
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Successful Launch of ESA's Herschel and Planck - European Space Agency
Today at 13:12 GMT ESA launched successfully new and long awaiting spacecrafts: Herschel the 3.5m mirror infrared telescope, and Planck the CMB mapper. The spacecrafts were carried by the Arian 5, which lifted off from Kourou in French Guiana.

They will stay in L2 to perform the research. Herschel and Planck are one of the most expensive and important missions of the European Space Agency. They were built to perform measurements with an outstanding quality. Planck will measure CMB with accuracy below 1%, over 10 times better than the previous mission WMAP.

Because of this high sensitivity both spacecrafts are cooled to temperatures close to absolute zero by on board liquid helium, and staying in L2 is very helpful to maintain this state.

Both spacecrafts are designed to observe the Universe at its infancy, the Herschel the first stars (those real ones), and galaxies (whichever came first), the Planck the first photons which were set free, the so called cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB)."

[link to science.slashdot.org]