Herschel-Planck countdown

I am going to miss a party at ROE. John Davies  sent round an email reminding everyone that Planck and Herschel are ready for launch. There will be nibbles while everyone gawks at the live webcast projected onto a screen in the canteen.  I am really sorry to miss this.

You can follow progress at the Planck-Herschel web site, and also at Andrew Jaffe’s blog. The lucky swine is actually there. There are mission-blogs and twitters and all that now-usual stuff. Andrew Jaffe gives the links.

If you want to set your watches, launch is expected 14:12 UK time (BST) on Thursday. Unfortunately this is six am California time…

If you are looking for quick sexy results, look for Herschel rather than Planck.  Planck takes three months to get to L2, then scans for 14 months, then analyses stuff for another year.. there will be not a peep until summer 2011. Herschel however is a regular observatory so stuff will get out much more quickly.

9 Responses to Herschel-Planck countdown

  1. Alan Penny says:

    That was great. Herschel/Planck are go (so far).

    But, as usual, ESA PR made a poor show of it. They should learn from NASA.

  2. John Peacock says:

    ESA and NASA are similarly incompetent. They both have these downward-looking cameras that give great pictures of e.g. booster separation – but that’s all they show us. They ought to cut the talking heads and just show a continuous movie of the earth receding: this would be far more impressive.

  3. Tony says:

    I cannot watch this sort of thing. Just glad it turned out well for all the people with so much staked on the launch and hope the instruments perform as planned.

  4. MikeW says:

    According to the ESA bumff, Herschel and Planck take a similar time (2 months) to get to L2. Seems logical.
    So Herschel results a bit quicker than Planck, but still a longish wait.

    • MatthewH says:

      As far as I know, they start testing out Herschel’s science instruments quite soon. Obviously they won’t be as sensitive as they will be at L2 (still too warm), but some first light verification work will be done. How much of this early stuff will be discussed publicly is obviously another matter.

  5. Mrs Trellis says:

    Dear Laurence,

    A billion pounds seems a lot of money for a bit of wood and a chocolate bar.

    Yours sincerely

    Mrs Trellis

  6. Dave says:

    On Herschel SPIRE turns on in a week, on 22 May, with PACS 3 days after and HIFI 5 days after that. They’ll all be looking at the backside of the cryocover so these will just be health checks. 17 June is when the cryocover opens and we get our first view of space, and the first chance to see what Herschel can really do.

    For Planck things get going once the instruments are properly cold, which takes about 60 days. However, because of the Planck communication policy you won’t be hearing anything from the mission until it gets approved by the Planck Science Team. We aren’t even allowed to informally talk to people about Planck without approval. So it will be quite a long time before you hear anything at all about Planck.

    Mission blogs can be found at:


    (which has some really cool new images from space)


  7. Iain Steele says:

    Some nice Liverpool Telescope images of Herschel and Planck from 11 hours after takeoff here…


  8. andyxl says:

    Iain – that is a very cool picture !

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