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Space Observatory

Herschel Spacecraft Herschel, short for the "Herschel Space Observatory", is the fourth cornerstone mission in the European Space Agency (ESA) science programme. With a 3.5 m Cassegrain telescope it is becoming the largest space telescope ever launched. The launch of Herschel is planned on 14th May 2009 and will be operated as an observatory facility. Herschel will be the only space observatory to cover the spectral range from far-infrared to submillimetre wavelengths (approximately the 55-672 µm range). Herschel science payload comprises three instruments: two cameras/medium resolution spectrometers (the Photodetector Array Camera and Spectrometer (PACS), and the Spectral and Photometric Imaging REceiver (SPIRE)) and a very high resolution heterodyne spectrometer (the Heterodyne Instrument for the Far Infrared (HIFI)). The telescope is named after the British astronomer William Herschel, who in 1800 discovered infrared radiation while studying the Sun. He became famous for discovering Uranus.

> Science Objectives
> The Spacecraft
> MPS Contribution
> The Team
> Related Links
> HssO Homepage
> Herschel Publications by MPS Members


Science Objectives

The key objetive of Herschel is to study the formation of stars and galaxies, and to investigate the relationship between them. Some examples of the particular investigations of Herschel are:

  • Study the formation and evolution of elliptical galaxies and the central bulges in other galaxies during the first third of the Universe’s history
  • Reveal the physical and chemical processes in the early and later phases of the stellar’s life
  • Investigate how and why stars form from interstellar clouds, and planets form from circumstellar discs
  • Study the atmospheres of planets and satellites in our Solar System and of comets
  • Determine physical properties of trans-Neptunian objects, the primitive remnants of the planetesimal disk from which the outer planets formed


The Spacecraft

Herschel is 7.5 m high and 4.5 m in diameter, with a mass of approximately 3400 kg at launch. Herschel is designed to perform routine science operations for a minimum of 3 years at around the second Lagrangian point (L2) of the Sun-Earth system (1.5 million km from Earth). In order to achieve its scientific objectives, Herschel’s detectors have to operate at very low and stable temperatures. So the spacecraft cools the detectors close to absolute zero (-273°C).


MPS Contribution

MPS is member of the Herschel-HIFI Consortium. MPS contributed to the HIFI back-end sub-system which contains the Wide-Band Spectrometer (WBS). The WBS consists of two 4 GHz-wide AOS (Acousto Optical Spectrometers) located in the service module (SVM). The resulting spectral resolution for the HIFI AOS is 1.1 MHz. The WBS has three units: the Wide-Band Spectrometer Optical unit (WBO), the Wide-Band Spectrometer Electronics unit (WBE), and the Wide-Band Spectrometer Intermediate Frequency Processor unit (WBI). MPS provided the WBE and the WBI units. The WBO is provided by the I.Physikalisches Institut of the University of Cologne.


The Team

Dr. Paul Hartogh
HIFI Co-Investigator, MPS project Scientist, HssO Principal Investigator
(+49 5556 979 342 -
Dr. Christopher Jarchow
HIFI Co-Investigator, Instrument Scientist
Dr. Miriam Rengel
HIFI Co-Investigator, HIFI ICC Calibration Scientist
Dr. Alexander Medvedev
HIFI Co-Investigator
Dr. Thivault Cavalié
Post-doctoral Research Fellow, HIFI-Associated Scientist
Dr. Hideo Sagawa
Post-doctoral Research Fellow, HIFI-Associated Scientist
Dr. Hermann Böhnhardt
HIFI-Associated Scientist
Armando Gonzalez
Ph.D. student, HIFI-Affiliated Scientist
Gerlinde Bierwirth
Julia Müller
Song Li
Engineer (retired)
Peter Börner
Project Manager (retired)
Eckhard Steinmetz
Project Engineer (retired)
Hartmut Bitterlich
Engineer (retired)
Alexander Loose
Engineer (retired)
Claudius Römer
Engineer (retired)
Markus Monecke
Engineer (retired)
Helmut Schüddekopf
Engineer (retired)
Ulrich Strohmeyer
Technician (retired)
Marianne Krause
Technical designer (retired)
Walter Boogaerts
Quality assurance (retired)


Related Links

> Herschel Homepage @ ESA
> HssO Homepage MPS
> HIFI Homepage SRON
> HIFI Homepage University Köln
> Instrumentation Group University Köln

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