Herschel Space Observatory
21 Sep 2009



Herschel was an infrared space observatory covering the wavelength range from 70-700 micrometres and was cooled by 2500 litres of liquid helium. It was the largest single segment telescope launched into space.

Image shows telescope, vessel containing liquid helium cryostat (narrow, middle part), and service module at the bottom.

​​​​The Herschel Space Observatory

Credit: ESA

RAL Space Involvement
Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver (SPIRE) development lead. Ground system ​lead i​n science operations, calibration, user support, data processing and analysis software.


Main Objectives

To study the formation of galaxies in the early Universe and their subsequent ​evolution, investigate the creation of stars and their interaction with the interstellar medium, observe the chemical composition of the atmospheres and surfaces of comets, planets and satellites in our Solar System and to examine the molecular chemistry of the Universe.

Launch date
14th May 2009​

ESA, Cardiff University, Imperial College, University of Lethbridge, CEA, IPAC-Caltech, University of Sussex, University of Trieste, University of Padova, LAM, NAOC, IAC, IFSI

The Herschel Space Observatory in testing in the clean room with 6 people in clean suits inspecting. 

Image: The Herschel spacecraft undergoes final preparations inside the Large European Acoustic Facility.

Further Project Information​
Further project information is available on the following websites:

For more information please contact: RAL Space Enquiries