Fri, Jul 05, 2013
Herschel Space Observatory Concludes Its Primary Science Mission
This tiny dot against the streaking star field is one of the last views that ground-based observers will see of ESA’s iconic Herschel space observatory.
Herschel spent over three years taking stunning images of the Universe in far infrared wavelengths, but in April the spacecraft depleted the last of its helium coolant, concluding science operations. After this, the spacecraft operations team performed a series of engineering tests. A series of thruster burns moved it from its orbit around the L2 point 1.5 million kilometers from the Earth, and into a heliocentric orbit. Finally, in June, the spacecraft was switched off.
As well as being tracked by ESA ground stations throughout its mission, amateur astronomers have also enjoyed spotting the spacecraft. Last week, as Herschel began moving away from Earth, astronomers Nick Howes and Ernesto Guido from the Remanzacco Observatory used the 2-meter diameter Faulkes Telescope North in Hawaii to image the spacecraft. The observation was a particular challenge as the final maneuvers made by the ESA flight control team resulted in the observatory being at a slightly different position on the sky compared to that predicted by existing orbital data.
But the imaging campaign was successful, as seen in the image presented here, with Herschel indicated by the two lines to the right of center. Stars appear as streaks because the astronomers were tracking the motion of Herschel through the sky.
Herschel’s new orbit will send it around the Sun, coming back into Earth’s neighborhood around 13 years from now. Determining an accurate orbit now is important, because its increasing distance will make it fainter and much harder to keep track of in the intervening years.
(Image provided by ESA.)
Also: $1M Aero-Photo, Draken Gets A-4s, 'Super Dell' Acts Super Dumb, Legendary Bell 47, Osprey Hours Evergreen Vintage Aircraft, LLC, the company that owns many of the aircraft on>[...]
One of The Most Important Aspects of GA is Flight Training... But Is The Industry Keeping Up With The Times? While at the Redbird Migration 2014, ANN CEO and Editor-In-Chief, Jim C>[...]
"This sale enables us to focus on improving Heathrow for passengers and winning support for Heathrow expansion." Source: John Holland-Kaye, Chief Executive of Heathrow.>[...]
AD NUMBER: AD 2014-25-06 PRODUCT: All Airbus Model A300 series airplanes; Airbus Model A300 B4-600, B4-600R, and F4-600R series airplanes, and Model A300 C4-605R Variant F airplane>[...]
How GPS Works We know it sometimes seems like a magic box that knows all and tells all, but the basics of how your GPS works are really pretty simple.>[...]