ESA’s Herschel space observatory set against a background image of the Vela C star-forming region
Kessler, Head of ESA's Science Operations Department, sends the final command to Herschel
ESA's Herschel project scientist, Göran Pilbrat (left) and Spacecraft Operations Manager Micha Schmidt (right), watching final telemetry from Herschel
On Monday at 12:25 GMT, the European Space Agency (ESA) executed final shutdown on the Herschel space telescope after shooting it into solar orbit. This shutdown marks the end of Herschel’s successful four-year mission of deep space observation, which was terminated when it ran out of liquid helium in April. Without liquid helium to cool its super-sensitive infrared instrument, Herschel was unable to continue its mission, but it was otherwise fully functional, so ESA took the opportunity to use the probe to carry out technical tests that couldn't be done earlier.
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