The Herschel satellite was about 7 metres high and 4.3 metres wide, and had a launch mass of about 3.25 tons. The industrial partnership who build the spacecraft was headed by Alcatel in Cannes, France and included Astrium in Friedrichshafen, Germany, and Thales Alenia Space in Turin, Italy.
The Herschel and Planck satellites were developed together under a common engineering project. They were both placed in orbit in one launch in 2009, using an Ariane 5 launcher. Herschel’s transfer to the L2 Lagrange point lasted approximately 4 months. The mission was planned to last at least 3 years.
© ESA, Thales Alenia Space, Arianespace
Credit ESA / AOES Medialab ; background : Hubble Space Telescope, NASA/ ESA/ STScI
Herschel’s operating wavelengths range from 60 µm to 670 µm, performing both spectroscopy and photometry.
On-board equipment includes:
- A Ritchey-Chrétien telescope with a 3.5 m primary mirror, cooled to about 80 K, to detect far-infrared and sub-millimetre wavelengths. The telescope was built for ESA by Astrium.
- A service module, which contains the supports systems (power supply, attitude control, communications) as well as the instruments’ electronics.
- A superfluid helium cryostat (at 2 K), based on technology previously used successfully on the ISO mission, containing the cold components of the three instruments: