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Successful Launch of ESA's Herschel and Planck

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the round-and-round-they-go dept.

Space 121

rgarbacz writes "Today at 13:12 GMT, the ESA launched successfully new and long-awaiting spacecraft: Herschel, the infrared telescope with a 3.5m mirror, and Planck, the CMB mapper. The spacecraft were carried by the Ariane-5, which lifted off from Kourou in French Guiana. They will stay in L2 to perform the research. This launch is one of the most expensive and important missions of the European Space Agency. Planck will measure the CMB with an accuracy more than 10 times better than the previous mission, WMAP. Because of this high sensitivity, both spacecraft are cooled to temperatures close to absolute zero by on-board liquid helium; staying in L2 is very helpful to maintain this state. Both spacecraft are designed to observe the Universe at its infancy: Herschel by observing the first stars and galaxies (whichever came first), and Planck by scrutinizing the first photons that were set free, making up the cosmic microwave background radiation."

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with accuracy below 1% (5, Funny)

tsalmark (1265778) | more than 5 years ago | (#27951891)

even if it is ten times more accurate than before, I think we have a long way to go.

Re:with accuracy below 1% (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27952039)

Nice FP whore.

On a more serious note, Herschel is the first Jewish spacecraft to be launched. That's why its nose cone is much larger than those of other spacecraft.

SuperAccurate (4, Insightful)

wild_quinine (998562) | more than 5 years ago | (#27951903)

Planck will measure CMB with accuracy below 1%

Uhm. Is this technical terminology that I simply don't understand, or just a typo? Because I can understand a '1% margin of error', and I can sort of understand 'accurate to 1%'... but something which is below 1% accurate?

If only I could get away with that in my job.

Re:SuperAccurate (1)

HaZardman27 (1521119) | more than 5 years ago | (#27951971)

I was thinking the exact same thing. Especially since that is over 10 times better than its predecessor.

Re:SuperAccurate (1)

wild_quinine (998562) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952065)

The good news is that the next one will be accurate to five nines.

The bad news is that will be 9% accurate, followed by 9% accurate, followed by...

On the plus side, it'll still be nearly ten times better than this one.

Re:SuperAccurate (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27951995)

The correct term would be inaccuracy. Calling it accuracy is misleading, but very common.

Blame rgarbacz (5, Informative)

mangu (126918) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952113)

It seems like the summary writer didn't understand TFA. Quoting from ESA:

Planck is designed to 'see' the microwaves and, in practice, it will detect them by measuring temperature. That temperature is already known to be about 2.7K (which is very cold, about 270C, near absolute zero). It has been measured to be 2.726K all over the sky to three decimal figures. This degree of accuracy in the measurement may seem good enough, but much more precise measurements are needed.

The older measurements that Planck is trying to improve already are accurate to 0.1%.

It seems like someone got confused with the coincidence that the temperature of the universe, 2.7 K, is about 1% of the temperature of freezing water, 270 K.

Re:Blame rgarbacz (3, Interesting)

pwfffff (1517213) | more than 5 years ago | (#27954181)

"(which is very cold, about 270C, near absolute zero)"

I think you dropped this: -

Re:Blame rgarbacz (1)

Jantastic (196238) | more than 5 years ago | (#27955923)

(which is very cold, about 270C, near absolute zero).

Everything is relative of course, but I'm pretty sure with a minus sign it would be a lot closer: -270C.

Re:SuperAccurate (1)

rgarbacz (1450155) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952859)

I am sorry for this not a scientific expression. I heard it from a commenter during the lift-off. Honestly I do not know what he meant, but considering that (from ESA [esa.int] :

... Planck will examine this to a sensitivity, angular resolution and frequency range never achieved before.

I believe this 1% (+- 0.01) can be either the error level of one of the measurements or a general expression for an overall performance (not very scientific indeed). The commenter mentioned 10% (+- 0.1) for WMAP, and something around 40-50% (I do not remember exactly) for COBE.

Re:SuperAccurate (1)

deglr6328 (150198) | more than 5 years ago | (#27953059)

Can someone on this project tell us what took so long with Planck? I remember seeing a picture of it under construction in a cleanroom in the accompanying book to the PBS show "Stephen Hawking's Universe [youtube.com] "....... in 1998!

Re:SuperAccurate (3, Insightful)

sofar (317980) | more than 5 years ago | (#27956989)

Most likely due to:

- funding (the launch phase costs the most because everything has to be tested & proven before it even goes up).
- other projects going up first (short-term projects slip in first etc), occupying launch events.
- feasibility (sometimes a great idea just is too risky)

in that order. it's not rocket science :)

Re:SuperAccurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27953261)

This is what I'm talking about all the time.
If the poster couldn't even correctly use such a simple word, how do we trust the whole story/review he wrote?

What? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27951905)

Accuracy below 1%? Did someone put a not gate in the wrong place?

Another Job well Done (2, Interesting)

Leafheart (1120885) | more than 5 years ago | (#27951943)

Between this and the fix ongoing on Hubble, where are set for some more time of great and impressive astronomy. Thank you NASA and ESA for keeping the good work.

Any one have any idea how they will keep the helium going on it? I tried on the articles but couldn't find the longevity and repair plans.

Re:Another Job well Done (5, Informative)

whathappenedtomonday (581634) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952077)

Herschel is supposed to complete its mission in three years, Planck in only 15 months. After the helium supplies have evaporated, their missions end. They won't be repaired / serviced, because they are too far away to be easily reached with a shuttle. That's what local news here say.

Re:Another Job well Done (2, Interesting)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952341)

After the helium supplies have evaporated,

I realize we, as in all space agencies, use helium or something else to keep these instruments cold, but why can't we use the coldness of space to do the same thing? Isn't there some way to use one or more of the three forms of heat transfer to keep the instruments cold enough to work without having to rely on a limited source of helium?

Re:Another Job well Done (5, Informative)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952531)

Well, that's because the space is too hot.

Even without the sun.

They are trying to measure the CMB. If you are not colder than outer space, most of the radiation would just come from the telescope itself...

Re:Another Job well Done (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#27953203)

Well, that's because the space is too hot.

Huh? How can space have a temperature?

Re:Another Job well Done (3, Informative)

borizz (1023175) | more than 5 years ago | (#27953439)

Space radiates. If we were to put a black body in space at absolute zero, after a while it would be about 2.7 Kelvin. This is because of the cosmic microwave background (which is what they're trying to measure here).

If you have a distractor (radiation from the craft itself) as big as the thing you're trying to measure, you won't get good results.

Re:Another Job well Done (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#27953515)

Space radiates. If we were to put a black body in space at absolute zero, after a while it would be about 2.7 Kelvin. This is because of the cosmic microwave background (which is what they're trying to measure here).

If you have a distractor (radiation from the craft itself) as big as the thing you're trying to measure, you won't get good results.

But emitting EM radiation isn't the same thing as having a temperature, is it?

I mean, I can see how the net effect is similar, because you still end up heating up your black block, similarly to what would happen if there was a heat transfer due to conduction.

It just sounds a little loose with terms to say that space has a temp.

Re:Another Job well Done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27953729)

But emitting EM radiation isn't the same thing as having a temperature, is it?

It's exactly the same thing. For another take on it, look up "terahertz imaging." The frequencies are roughly similar. You're emitting terahertz radiation right now, just sitting there. Probably giving everyone around you cancer. :-P

Re:Another Job well Done (4, Insightful)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 5 years ago | (#27953831)

To put it another way- heat is full of microwaves (the same as are in your kitchen appliance) which heats up everything in space to a certain point (2.7 Kelvin, if it's a black something). If you simply rely on "the coldness of space" to cool you down, that's as cool as you're going to get.

That's still EXTREMELY cold, but for this particular mission it's not cold enough. This mission is to measure said background radiation, meaning that in order to do it's job it must be colder than that extremely low temperature that is "the coldness of space".

Re:Another Job well Done (4, Insightful)

forand (530402) | more than 5 years ago | (#27954707)

There is a huge technical problem that many of the above posters have ignored. To use "space" as a heat sink requires you to conduct that head to space. However, space is very close to vacuum and thus it is near impossible to conduct heat away. The other option is to radiate heat away this requires that you have something which is very efficient at radiating in the peak frequency for the nominal temperature of the radiator. To make a long story short you cannot use radiative cooling to cool something to near zero in space because you are being bathed by 2.7k blackbody radiation.

Re:Another Job well Done (5, Informative)

whathappenedtomonday (581634) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952653)

"In order to study the coolest places in the Universe the Herschel instruments must be cooled to just above absolute zero. A large cryostat surrounds the instruments maintaining an operational temperature of 1.7 K for a nominal mission lifetime of 4 years." ESA has some great info on their site. [esa.int]

Re:Another Job well Done (1)

Leafheart (1120885) | more than 5 years ago | (#27953001)

I found it after, but thanks for the link. Now let's put our science fiction minds to work and hypothize something (I'm sure the fellow slashdotters that know astronomy better than me will correct all the problems with my idea)

Since we are talking about L2, a place on space where the craft will be mainly stationary, isn't it feasible to make a "pit stop craft"? I mean, launch a craft that would stay at L2 and its only mission would be to fuel the other crafts in the region? What are the serious flaws in this plan?

Re:Another Job well Done (1)

powerlord (28156) | more than 5 years ago | (#27953405)

1) we're lazy

2) we're too busy spending money on new "gee whiz" human launch systems

3) then we're going to need a "tanker" to refuel the "pit stop craft". Next thing you know we have a whole infrastructure to support robotic space exploration/exploitation. It'd be far too practical.

Which L2? (2, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#27955021)

Which L2? There are several. The convention is to express it with the initial of the Large body, then the initial of the small body: eg the Sun-Earth L2 would be SEL2; the Earth Moon would be EML2. I'm guessing this would be SEL2 so that the Earth blocks out a lot of the radiation from the Sun. Anyone know if SEL2 is within the umbra of the Earth's shadow?

Re:Another Job well Done (1)

Fungii (153063) | more than 5 years ago | (#27958027)

Flaws? Well, for a start there's the fact that it's completely ridiculous...

Any fuel to be used for refueling would have to be launched with the craft - it all has to come from earth anyway so there's no benefit to be gained. It doesn't make any sense, it's just adding in an unnecessary layer of complication.

Even apart from that, a docking at the L2 point in order for the refueling would be a ridiculously complicated process - some kind of automatic system could be designed to do it, but (unless the craft's final destination is the lagrange point, in which case it obviously isn't going to need refueling) that would waste a lot of fuel in order to stop the craft so that it could dock with the tanker.

And the orbit of the craft to be refueled would have to pass through the lagrange point which in almost all cases would waste more fuel than could possibly be gained by the refueling (this is assuming that a transfer orbit through the lagrange point is even possible).

Re:Another Job well Done (4, Informative)

m50d (797211) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952687)

I realize we, as in all space agencies, use helium or something else to keep these instruments cold, but why can't we use the coldness of space to do the same thing?

Because what they're trying to measure is, in some senses, the temperature of space itself - the ~3K CMB. So they need the detector to be colder than that.

Isn't there some way to use one or more of the three forms of heat transfer to keep the instruments cold enough to work without having to rely on a limited source of helium?

No. The radiative coolers (can't really use conduction or convection in space) will keep the craft cold enough for the low frequency instrument to work, even after the helium* runs out, but to get the 0.1K that the high frequency instrument needs, there's no (good) alternative to this active cooler.

* Well, not after the helium in its own refrigerators runs out. But it's not actively venting that, so we only have leakage to worry about there.

Re:Another Job well Done (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27953077)

to get the 0.1K that the high frequency instrument needs, there's no (good) alternative to this active cooler.

What about cooling lasers? I am not a physicist... although I aspire to be. Maybe someday I'll make friends with mathematics.

Re:Another Job well Done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27953295)

What powers the laser, and where does the heat from the power source go?

You get rid of heat in space by radiating it away. It hurts more than it helps to try to organize that radiation into a coherent beam like a laser.

The lasers for extreme cooling near absolute zero you may have read about cool just a few atoms. They do this cooling by sending light at the atom, not away from it, to try to cancel out its motion. The pile of equipment to do this stays hot; it's not part of the system under study, unlike a self-contained spacecraft.

Re:Another Job well Done (1)

m50d (797211) | more than 5 years ago | (#27953349)

I almost made a point of mentioning that the "refrigeration laser" in David Brin's novels has no relation to reality, if that's what you're thinking of. If you're thinking of the real laser cooling, my AC sibling has it covered - yes, it's possible to cool things that way, but simply not practical on the kind of scale needed, and if it were the power requirements would be huge.

Re:Another Job well Done (3, Informative)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952791)

I realize we, as in all space agencies, use helium or something else to keep these instruments cold, but why can't we use the coldness of space to do the same thing?

Space isn't really "cold", or rather, the terms "cold" and "hot" lose much of their meaning when you're talking about incredibly low densities like you have in space.

If you have an atmosphere then you transfer heat by radiation and conduction. You can cool your instruments by putting them in the shade (so they don't get the radiated energy from the sun) and ensuring the atmosphere is cool so that it will conduct the heat away. The atmosphere on Earth is actually not a great conductor, but because it is a fluid you can keep the air moving so that as soon as some of the heat has been conducted to the surrounding air you move that (warmer) aid out of the way and replace it with cool air - this can be done naturally by convection or by forcing the air to move with a fan.

In space you have practically no atmosphere, so the heat transfer is almost entirely by radiation - your instruments are essentially in a giant vacuum flask. Your satellite needs to reflect away the energy radiated by the sun, and the cosmic microwave background radiation, etc. and also radiate away its own heat (remember, these satellites contain lots of electronics and like all electronics they will generate heat). This is a pretty tall order - surfaces that radiate well are also really good at absorbing energy. - I imagine it's much cheaper and lighter to send up a load of liquid helium and dissipate the heat by letting it boil away.

Re:Another Job well Done (2, Informative)

mmontour (2208) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952887)

I realize we, as in all space agencies, use helium or something else to keep these instruments cold, but why can't we use the coldness of space to do the same thing?

According to this PDF [nationalacademies.org] the Planck mission does not use liquid helium coolant (although Herschel does). Also the upcoming James Webb telescope will not use it.

Re:Another Job well Done (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952967)

It's impossible to cool _and_ contain helium (which is superfluid at that temperature) within the limits of a small spacecraft.

Re:Another Job well Done (1)

jpflip (670957) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952963)

It's worth noting that Planck doesn't actually use a lot of liquid helium to cool itself down. It's cryogenic system is based upon "cryogen-free" mechanical refrigerators - the satellite launches warm, then cools itself down electrically and by radiating to space. The satellite lifetime isn't limited by running out of liquid helium.

Herschel, in contrast, does have a giant liquid helium tank. It launches full of helium, and eventually warms up when the tank runs out.

Re:Another Job well Done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27953967)

Great, now that we've filled LEO with flying space junk, time to start filling up L2.

Whats with the duplication of effort on the IR telescopes? Doesnt NASA have a big IR telescope nearing completion?

Re:Another Job well Done (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27952181)

During the launch commentary they mentioned that the scopes are launched with a 3 year supply of helium. I'm pretty sure repair missions to L2 would be pretty impractical.

Re:Another Job well Done (1)

nnnneedles (216864) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952343)

...and hilarious.

Re:Another Job well Done (1)

Kensai7 (1005287) | more than 5 years ago | (#27954961)

Between this and the fix ongoing on Hubble, where are set for some more time of great and impressive astronomy. Thank you NASA and ESA for keeping the good work.

My thoughts exactly! I can't stop thinking the wonders they could achieve if they worked as a united force. Space science and exploration is really costly. Instead of pursuing different goals they should unite NASA, ESA, JAXA, and the Chinese "under one ring" and create a truly global team.

ISA anyone?!

telecope out on the range (2, Funny)

greghodg (1453715) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952011)

Rumour spreadin a-round in that texas town,
Bout that telescope outside the second Lagrange point.
You know what I'm talkin' bout...

L2? (2, Informative)

bradgoodman (964302) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952025)

What is "L2"?

Re:L2? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27952069)

Some sort of cache I think.

Re:L2? (4, Informative)

Morphine007 (207082) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952083)

Re:L2? (2, Informative)

Morphine007 (207082) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952439)

Sorry, GP ... I just realized that posting the wiki link like that was basically akin to saying "L2wikipedia, noob", but it wasn't intended that way: The article doesn't actually say that the "L2" where the spacecraft are "staying" is actually the L2 Lagrange Point. Basically, as the wiki mentions and as others have stated, it's one of the 5 well known points where gravitational forces between the sun, moon and earth all cancel each other out. So the satellites can basically "hover" in the exact same position (relative to the earth and the sun) without having to move. For these particular satellites, that allows them to always stay in the earth's shadow, and, when their positioning (relative to the sun) allows for them to study a particular area in space, they won't have the earth periodically passing between them and whatever they're studying.

Re:L2? (1)

bradgoodman (964302) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952921)

Gotcha - but now I'm even more confused...

Wouldn't that quiescent point (of gravity between the earth and sun) be between the earth and sun, and therefore not in the Earth's shadow?

I thought the point was to keep it in the shadow - i.e. no solar radiation.

Re:L2? (1)

bradgoodman (964302) | more than 5 years ago | (#27953013)

Sorry - i read the article, and now it makes sense.

Pretty amazing - it was cool to read about the asteroids in the L4 and L5 fields of other planets!

Thanks - BKG

Re:L2? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27953163)

That's L1, the most obvious balance point. L2 is on the other side of Earth, away from the sun. Imagine an object the mass of the Sun plus the mass of the Earth, and imagine that this combined object is located at the center of gravity of the Sun-Earth system. Orbit this imaginary object with a period of one year, and your location will be slightly outside Earth's orbit. L3 is exactly the same principle, just on the opposite side of the Sun. L4 and L5 are trickier to explain.

Re:L2? (2, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952973)

Also, at the L2 point, all three major heat sources (Sun, Earth, and Moon) are in the same direction. This allows them to have a single heat shield to block radiation from those sources, reducing the cooling needs. When you're trying to keep something at 1.5K, even the light shining off the moon can make a pretty big difference in how much it takes to maintain that temperature.

Re:L2? (1)

anonieuweling (536832) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952085)

A lagrange point.

Re:L2? (4, Informative)

Ornedan (1093745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952095)

Lagrange point. Location where the gravitic pulls of some objects cancel each other out. In this case, it's Earth and Moon.

Re:L2? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27952717)

No, in this case, it's the earth and the sun.

The darkside Earth-Sun Lagrange point is useful here because you have to be in shadow all the time to do the kind of low energy observations these telescopes are going to be doing.

The Helium would run out in no time if the damn things were being bathed by the Sun for the majority of the time.

Re:L2? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27953813)

Its the Earth-Sun L2 point.
    Not the Earth-Moon L2 point.

Re:L2? (3, Informative)

hcg50a (690062) | more than 5 years ago | (#27954171)

Actually, it's the Earth and the Sun. It's on the Earth-Sun line, behind the earth (from the sun's point of view), and orbits the sun once a year. They put it here because it's easier to shield the satellite from both the Sun and Earth.

The L2 point for the Earth-Moon system is on the Earth-Moon line, behind the moon, and orbits the earth once evry 29.5 days.

Re:L2? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27956213)

Lagrange point. Location where the gravitic pulls of some objects cancel each other out. In this case, it's Earth and Moon.

Actually, the L2 point for Herschel and Planck (as well as the James Webb Space Telescope) is that for the Sun-Earth system (not Earth-Moon).

A L2 point for the Earth-Moon would have the telescope orbiting the Earth, always behind the Moon. However the L2 point for the Sun-Earth has the satellite orbit around the Sun, always behind the Earth.

Re:L2? (1)

Tired and Emotional (750842) | more than 5 years ago | (#27957603)

Cancel out isn't quite correct. L2 is further away from the sun than earth and in line with it. An object there goes around the sun once a year, just like earth. The earth is providing the extra gravitational pull to keep it in orbit. Obviously, an object further away from the sun would normally orbit slower than the earth or else would fly off in an elliptical orbit if started with the same angualr velocity as the earth.

Re:L2? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27952105)

Lagrange point 2, one of the 5 locations in space around an orbiting body where the gravity wells from the major surrounding bodies cancel each other out, providing a sort of "still point" in space.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagrange_point

Ah how, how, how, how....

Re:L2? (2, Funny)

Cowmonaut (989226) | more than 5 years ago | (#27953227)

+1 ZZ Top

Re:L2? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27952601)

What is "L2"?

L squared. To be perfect, the L must have a square angle, otherwise it will lean forward or backward.

FFS (1, Informative)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952073)

"new and long awaiting spacecrafts....both spacecrafts are cooled...Both spacecrafts are designed"

Plural of "spacecraft" is "spacecraft".

English, do you speak it?

Re:FFS (2, Informative)

johannesg (664142) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952173)

"new and long awaiting spacecrafts....both spacecrafts are cooled...Both spacecrafts are designed"

Plural of "spacecraft" is "spacecraft".

English, do you speak it?

Actually Herschel and Planck are _two_ of the most expensive and important missions. But maybe we are being too hard on the author of this piece, who may not have english as his native language.

Indeed, the working language of ESA is something known as "franglais". It sounds like french and has grammar like french, but uses mostly english words. From experience, a communication like the article summary is actually pretty good by ESA standards...

Re:FFS (2, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 5 years ago | (#27953429)

But maybe we are being too hard on the author of this piece, who may not have english as his native language.

I don't blame the original author, but the incompetent editors who should have noticed and fixed it before publishing it.

Re:FFS (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27952223)

Plural of "spacecraft" is "spacecraft".

It's never too late to fix bugs in the language.

Re:FFS (2, Interesting)

rgarbacz (1450155) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952373)

I am grateful for the correction, and I am sorry for the mistake. English is not my native language. And please do not contribute this error to ESA - I do not work for this agency, I am just a space exploration enthusiast.

Re:FFS (0, Offtopic)

canuck08 (1421409) | more than 5 years ago | (#27953171)

Since English is not your first language all of these grammatical errors are totally forgivable.

Here are a few more corrections, just for fun.

...ESA launched successfully new and long awaiting spacecrafts...

Should be: '...long awaited...'

...Herschel and Planck are one of the most expensive and important...

Should be: '...are two of the most...'

They were built to perform measurements with an outstanding quality.

Should be: 'They were built to perform measurements of outstanding quality.'

The final sentence is basically a write-off. I would scrap it and try again. Try breaking it up into several sentences.

One thing you should actually get right is the proper name of the rocket! Ariane with an 'e'!

Re:FFS (1)

johannesg (664142) | more than 5 years ago | (#27953469)

please do not contribute this error to ESA - I do not work for this agency, I am just a space exploration enthusiast.

Don't worry, you'd fit right in...

Re:FFS (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 5 years ago | (#27953503)

Sorry if my remarks seemed intemperate. I should have made it clear that my contempt is directed at the editors.

Re:FFS (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952407)

Plural of "spacecraft" is "spacecraft".

But the plural should be spacecreft!

Re:FFS (4, Funny)

richmaine (128733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952589)

Plural of "spacecraft" is "spacecraft".

But the plural should be spacecreft!

Spacecruft?

Re:FFS (1)

bughunter (10093) | more than 5 years ago | (#27953135)

Spacecruft?

No, that's the stuff they have to scrape off the shuttle's windshield after each mission.

Re:FFS (1)

ca111a (1078961) | more than 5 years ago | (#27954777)

Spacecruft?

no, that's past plural tense of "spacecraft"

Re:FFS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27953011)

And the plural of moose should be meese!

Re:FFS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27952553)

That's funny because English is so messed up, filled with arbitrary exceptions. Speaking English is like speaking the bastard language of Earth.

Re:FFS (1)

KublaKhan1797 (1240934) | more than 5 years ago | (#27953147)

"new and long awaiting spacecrafts....both spacecrafts are cooled...Both spacecrafts are designed"

Plural of "spacecraft" is "spacecraft".

English, do you speak it?

Hmm, do you speak it?

Quoting 'Wiktionary':

Noun
Singular: spacecraft
Plural: spacecrafts or spacecraft

spacecraft (plural spacecrafts or spacecraft)
1. A vehicle that travels through space.

Re:FFS (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 5 years ago | (#27953461)

Quoting 'Wiktionary':

Cite a real dictionary and I might take note. Any idiot can write a Wiktionary definition. I have, for instance.

Re:FFS (1)

KublaKhan1797 (1240934) | more than 5 years ago | (#27956771)

Quoting 'Wiktionary':

Any idiot can write a Wiktionary definition. I have, for instance.

An idiot like you? Well, you said it.

The Planck is the smallest spacecrafts ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27952203)

They made a couple that were smaller, but they think they disappeared into a black hole.

Far out and still close to home... (3, Interesting)

yogibaer (757010) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952283)

First emotion: Wow! Far out: L2 is 1.5 million km from Earth beyond the orbit of the moon ( so no space shuttle service missions here... ). But before I looked it up I had completely forgotten that Mars is at best still another 53 million km and then imagining the billions of lightyears Herschel will be able to "see"... I have to buy another ticket for "Star Trek" to lose this image of an invisibly tiny blue spec in a black void in my head...

Re:Far out and still close to home... (1)

A Friendly Troll (1017492) | more than 5 years ago | (#27954493)

But before I looked it up I had completely forgotten that Mars is at best still another 53 million km and then imagining the billions of lightyears Herschel will be able to "see"... I have to buy another ticket for "Star Trek" to lose this image of an invisibly tiny blue spec in a black void in my head...

Here's something that won't help you do it: http://www.physics.uci.edu/~observat/Physical_Scales.html [uci.edu]

Happy launching (3, Interesting)

KasperMeerts (1305097) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952321)

It's really awesome this thing launched succesfully. My professor of astronomy and his department worked ten years on Herschel. I'm really happy for him.

I hope the sattelite gives us a lot of useful information or at least some beautiful pictures

Re:Happy launching (4, Funny)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952369)

it's all about the pretty sparkle isnt it?

If I don't get new desktops by June I will NOT be happy...

Re:Happy launching (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27952971)

There won't be any pretty Herschel pictures -- the beam is several tens of arcseconds (depending on which wavelength you observe), so galaxies are effectively point sources.

But it's still going to be amazingly useful (I'm doing my PhD thesis with soon-to-be Herschel data).

Herschel (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27952337)

the first spacecraft named after a Jew. Shocking, really, coming from Europe, where anti-semitic lies are generally accepted as facts.

Re:Herschel (1)

Voice of satan (1553177) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952647)

That's probably why they spelled "arian" in place of "Ariadne" (or "Ariane" in French). To compensate i guess. Although the good spelling would have been Aryan. More seriously, great news. ;-)

Free Software On Both (5, Interesting)

joelsherrill (132624) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952613)

As maintainer of RTEMS [rtems.org] , I am very proud that both spacecraft are running our free real-time operating system on at least the Spacecraft Management Unit (SMU). These are both important missions which promise to provide us with new insights.

Re:Free Software On Both (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27953457)

The NASA/GSFC Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) also uses RTEMS on some of its support processors. The main processor on SDO runs the closed source VX/Works OS.

Re:Free Software On Both (3, Funny)

powerlord (28156) | more than 5 years ago | (#27953927)

Nice site. Interesting project.

Its a good thing they didn't put (insert x86 architecture OS here) on them.

I can see the first message sent back containing the words "No keyboard present. Press F1 to continue." ... followed by a prolonged silence. ;)

Re:Free Software On Both * 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27958571)

And both spacecrafts' Mission Control Systems at ESOC (European Space Operations Centre) are running Linux as well. Yeah free software!

Very well written submission! (1)

monkeySauce (562927) | more than 5 years ago | (#27952769)

UOA and WUVESDFA and very well employed in the article summary. They are great tactics to keep the reader guessing about WTF they are reading. Furthermore, overuse of hyperlinks is a big problem these days. A summary need link to nothing more than a single article, which no one will read anyway. Any other linking to clarify the meaning of the story is just wasteful. Lets hear it for more Unidentified Obscure Acronyms (UOA) and greater use of Wait Until the Very End of the Summary to Define the Fucking Acronym (WUVESDFA)!

"Ariane 5", hopefully the tags are correct (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27953281)

"Ariane" the French spelling of Ariadne, a character in Greek mythology.

Space Junk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27953433)

What's going to happen in a few years when the missions ends? Are these going to become space junk sitting in extremely valuable real estate?

Launched by a bunch of skinheads? (1)

ChartBoy (626444) | more than 5 years ago | (#27954431)

The launch vehicle's name is Ariane 5. The 'e' at the end makes a bit of a difference.

Herschel and Planck? (2, Interesting)

cwiegmann24 (1476667) | more than 5 years ago | (#27954779)

I understand that they're named after some famous scientists, but how are these names any better or more notable than Colbert? It's not like I'm going to remember Sir William Herschel and Max Planck any better because they have a spacecraft named after them. I had to look both up cause I didn't know who they were.

Re:Herschel and Planck? (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 5 years ago | (#27956785)

Because it's about honouring the people named, not some kind of mnemonic. Colbert, while funny, is just a comedian. Herschel and Planck both contributed greatly to science.

Re:Herschel and Planck? (1)

m50d (797211) | more than 5 years ago | (#27958095)

Then you haven't been paying attention. They're not just named after arbitrary famous scientists; they're people directly related to the wavelengths being studied. (Also, naming things after dead people is more... dignified, somehow.)

Failure to understand that basic laws of physics (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 5 years ago | (#27957313)

Both spacecrafts are designed to observe the Universe at its infancy, the Herschel â" the first stars (those real ones), and galaxies (whichever came first), the Planck the first photons which were set free, the so called cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB)."

Okay, so at the point of the big bang, the entire universe was concentrated into a single point of matter.

At some point in the past the big bang occurred and matter and energy expanded from this single point at the speed of light or near it, as best we can tell. The matter and light were traveling away from the point of orgin, at the highest possible speed, the speed of light which we say is a constant and is the max attainable speed by anything, ever.

So why do scientists keep saying we're trying to see the 'first photons' when those first photons are at the front of the expanding universe, traveling faster than we are, away from us.

Obviously, I do not understand it on the same level as they do, which I think gives me the unique perspective to not be an idiot and rule out common sense, but hey, correct me, please.

So if those first photons and us are all traveling away from faster than we are moving how the fuck are we ever going to see them? They aren't going to bounce off something and come back, they are at the fore front of the expanding universe, everything for them to 'bounce off of' is behind their direction of travel.

We're not going to see the first stars or galaxies or anything else. The light and radiation passed us a long time ago as we're not traveling anywhere near the speed of light from the point of origin.

For guys that are supposed to be so smart, they either aren't, or the story about what these things are going to do has been so skewed by the time we read it that you can't get anything actually useful from the article as a geek because its been dumbed down to the point that its just wrong rather than inaccurate.

Planck secrecy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27958139)

According to this thorough article in norwegian (since norwegian scientists are involved), there is a lot of secrecy involved, so that results from Planck will not be released to the public before 2013 or 2014:

http://www.dagbladet.no/2009/05/14/nyheter/vitenskap/forskning/astronomi/verdensrommet/6203165/ [dagbladet.no]

(Briefly mentioned also, in this blog: http://planckmission.wordpress.com/ [wordpress.com] )

Sorry, no proper translation from norwegian to english available:

http://tinyurl.com/orlkmu [tinyurl.com]

In short, it says that because of competition between the scientists, there will be strict regulations and that scientist who forget to log out of their PC ("turn their monitor off") or bring any data off the premises, will be excluded from further studies and further monitoring of the Planck observatory.

Which I find strange, since there is only one Planck observatory like there is only one Hubble telescope, and there were no secrecy around the images released from it.

If one scientist give up his or her data, so that other scientists can get advantages which might make them "win the competition", why exclude scientists who "volunteer" information?

This, I don't understand, do they expect to find proof of alien presence? :-)
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