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The Herschel science payload comprises three instruments that perform a combination of spectrometry, imaging spectrometry and imaging photometry covering a wavelength range from 55 to 672 µm.

Herschel's primary objectives are to:

  • Study the formation of galaxies in the early Universe and their subsequent evolution
  • Investigate the creation of stars and their interaction with the interstellar medium
  • Observe the chemical composition of the atmospheres and surfaces of comets, planets and satellites
  • Examine the molecular chemistry of the Universe

With its ability to observe across the far infrared and sub-millimetre wavelengths, Herschel furnishes observation data that has previously been unobtainable.

The instruments have been provided by collaborative efforts between scientific institutes in ESA member states, Canada and the USA. Principal Investigators in different countries led the nationally funded collaborations during the development of the respective instruments, and continue to lead the instrument consortia during the operational phase of the mission.

Herschel Instruments

Instrument Name

Instrument Description

Principal Investigator

Heterodyne Instrument for the Far Infrared (HIFI) Very high resolution heterodyne spectrometer Frank Helmich, SRON (Groningen, The Netherlands)
Photodetector Array Camera and Spectrometer (PACS) Imaging photometer / integral field line spectrometer Albrecht Poglitsch, MPE (Garching, Germany)
Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver (SPIRE) Imaging photometer / imaging Fourier transform spectrometer Matthew Griffin, University of Wales (Cardiff, United Kingdom)

The instrument payload has been conceived and optimised with the prime science goals in mind, but in addition it offers a wide range of capabilities for the general observer.

Last Update: 14 January 2011

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