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Herschel Space Telescope closes its eyes on the universe

on 30 April 2013

Herschel - the European Space Agency's (ESA) telescope has exhausted its supply of liquid helium used for cooling its instruments, thus completing a period of more than three years studying the cold universe. The event was predicted by ESA

Launched on 14 May 2009, Hershel became the largest and most powerful infrared space telescope. The telescope's instruments had to be cooled to -271 degrees Celsius, or near absolute zero, in order to make observations at this wavelength. The instruments were therefore placed on top of a tank filled with 2300 liters of liquid helium, which gave the telescope a lifetime of 3.5 years.

During all this time, Herchel made ​​over 35,000 scientific observations, accumulating more than 25,000 hours of scientific data from approximately 600 observation programs.

Other 2000 hours of calibration observations have also contributed to enriching the database, located at the ESA center in Madrid, Spain.

Hershel will continue to communicate with the ground station for a while until ultimately the observatory will be placed on a stable orbit around the Sun. More informations on the ESA website