Herschel spacecraft nears completion

Sept. 5, 2007 at 2:21 PM
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PARIS, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- The European Space Agency says assembly of its Herschel far-infrared space observatory will be completed by the end of the year.

The revolutionary spacecraft will be equipped with the largest telescope ever launched into space, allowing cosmologists to study the formation and evolution of stars and galaxies. The 11.4-foot-diameter telescope is expected to give astronomers their best capability yet to explore the universe at far-infrared and sub-millimeter wavelengths.

Final integration of the various components of the spacecraft is expected to be completed during the next few months, the ESA said. That will be followed by a series of tests to get the spacecraft ready for launch at the end of July.

The three astronomical instruments aboard Herschel were designed and built by consortia of scientists and institutes in Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

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