Herschel Space Observatory

Mission Summary

A space-based telescope designed to study some of the coldest and darkest regions of the universe using infrared light, Herschel was responsible for numerous findings about dark matter, galaxies and other cosmic mysteries.

The telescope was decommissioned in April 2013 when it ran out of liquid coolant, as expected. However, astronomers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which contributed key technology to and analyzed data from the European Space Agency mission, are still looking over the data to unveil new discoveries.

Key Discoveries

August 2011: The Herschel Space Observatory's large telescope and state-of-the-art infrared detectors provide the first confirmed finding of oxygen molecules in space -- discovered in the Orion star-forming complex.

Scientific Instrument(s)

- Photoconductor Array Camera and Spectrometer (PACS)
- Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver (SPIRE)
- Heterodyne Instrument for the Far-Infrared (HIFI)

Type: Orbiter, Instrument
Status: Past
Launch Date: May 14, 2009
13:15 UTC
Launch Location: Guiana Space Centre, French Guiana
Mission End Date: April 29, 2013
Target: Universe
Current Location: Orbit type: Lissajous around the second Lagrange point of the Sun-Earth system (L2)
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