The ESA Herschel Space Observatory was launched in tandem with ESA's Planck spacecraft on the 14th May 2009. Herschel will investigate the history of how stars and galaxies formed and will study how they continue to form in our own and other galaxies. Herschell will observe at wavelengths never covered before.
Herschel is the largest infrared space observatory launched to date and has the largest single mirror ever built for a space telescope. At 3.5m in diameter the mirror will collect long-wavelength radiation from some of the coldest and most distant objects in the Universe. In addition, Herschel will be the only space observatory to cover a spectral range from the far infrared to sub-millimetre parts of the spectrum (from 55 to 672 µm).
On board are three scientific instruments designed to carry out imaging and spectroscopy:
PACS and SPIRE are cameras and spectrometers that enable Herschel to take images in six different colours in the far-infrared.
RAL Space was responsible for the conceptual design of the SPIRE instrument, project management, in-flight operations and instrument calibration.