Herschel - the mission that refused to die!
23 Apr 2013



The Herschel Space Observatory launched in 2009 had a projected lifetime of around 3.5 years, after which its supply of on-board liquid Helium would expire.

An image of the Horsehead Nebula seen by Herschel,

​​​The image shows the SPIRE 250 micron observations in red and the PACS 70 and 160 micron in blue and green respectively. The horsehead nebula is the pinkish protruding structure on the far right

Credit: 'Gould Belt Survey' Key Programme

The mission was predicted to end over a month ago but is still going strong with little evidence that the Helium is running out!

The extended life of Herschel will allow more stunning observations to be made like the recent images captured by the SPIRE (assembled and tested at RAL Space) and PACS instruments of one of the most iconic cosmic objects in astronomy – the Horsehead Nebula in Orion. The nebula itself is part of an immense stellar nursery known as the Orion B molecular cloud, a tangled web of infrared emitting dust, illuminated by the hot young stars being born within.​​

For more information please contact: RAL Space Enquiries