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Herschel Instruments Get First Peek at Cosmos
Herschel Instruments Get First Peek at Cosmos
10 Jul 2009
(Source: NASA)

the galaxy called M74 at three different wavelengths: 250, 300 and 500 microns
These pictures, taken by Herschel's spectral and photometric imaging receiver before fine-tuning or in-orbit final calibration was performed, show the galaxy called M74 at three different wavelengths: 250, 300 and 500 microns. Image credit: ESA & the PACS Consortium
All three of Herschel's instruments have now opened their eyes and collected their first astronomy data. The new images and spectra (fingerprints of cosmic light) demonstrate that the instruments and the telescope, which observe light with longer infrared wavelengths, are working as expected. The mission, led by the European Space Agency with important participation from NASA, has reached its final destination -- an orbit around the second Lagrange point of the Earth-sun system, located 1.5 million kilometers (930,000 miles) from Earth.

Once Herschel's checkout is complete, in a few months or so, Herschel will begin probing the youthful side of our cosmos. It will investigate the raw materials for stars; baby stars still nestled in cocoons; and sprightly galaxies churning out new stars. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., developed and built crucial mission-enabling technology for two of the three instruments, the heterodyne instrument for the far infrared, and the spectral and photometric imaging receiver.

More information is online at http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMAYT6CTWF_index_0.html .

More information about NASA's role in the mission is at http://www.herschel.caltech.edu/ .

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Last Updated: 10 Jul 2009