Beautiful first images from SPIRE

Stunning “first-light” astronomical images have just been produced by UK-led SPIRE instrument on board the Herschel Space Observatory. On June 24 2009, the SPIRE instrument was able to observe the sky for the first time since its launch in May. The telescope was trained on two galaxies called M66 and M74 to get a first impression of exactly what […]

SPIRE – the coldest place in space!

In-flight testing of SPIRE has continued during the last three days, with members of the SPIRE team at  the European Space Agency’s control centre in Darmstadt, Germany, commanding the instrument in real time and monitoring the data being transmitted back to Earth. On Wednesday May 21, they checked out the delicate moving mechanism used in […]

First in-flight tests of the SPIRE instrument

Testing of the Herschel instruments has already started. The SPIRE instrument was switched on for the first time on Tuesday May 18th.   Over a period of ten hours, the SPIRE team commanded the instrument in real time from the European Space Agency’s control centre in Darmstadt, Germany.  Everything is working well so far. More key […]

Herschel and Planck launch party!

The Herschel and Planck telescopes were blasted into space, and at Cardiff, nerves were taking over during the launch live feed. Staff from the University, local media and guests including the Welsh Assemby First Minister, Rhodri Morgan, gathered at the launch event in the School of Physics and Astronomy to watch events unfold.  Thirty minutes […]

Herschel clears final hurdle

The Herschel Space Observatory has cleared its final hurdle before observations can start.  On Sunday June 14th, the protective cover over the instruments was successfully removed, allowing scientists to see out for the first time. Opening the cover was a vital step – if it had not worked, Herschel would never be able to make […]


The European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory and Planck Surveyor were launched successfully on Thursday May 14 from Kourou, French Guyana.  These are two of the most powerful and ambitious astronomical satellites yet flown.  They will explore the Universe throughout almost its entire history, from just moments after the Big Bang, through the formation and […]