Installation of the Herschel Sunshield
22 December 2005The European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory will be the first example of a new generation of space telescopes.It will be the first space observatory covering the full far infrared and sub-millimetre waveband, and its telescope will have thelargest mirror ever deployed in space.
It will be located 1.5 million kilometres away from Earth at the second Lagrange point of the Earth-Sun system. Herschel's three and a half metre mirror will collect the light from distant and poorly known objects, such as newborn galaxies thousands of millions of light-years away, and will focus it onto three instruments with detectors kept at temperatures close to absolute zero.
Currently at the European Space Research And Technology Centre (ESTEC), Noordwijk, The Netherlands, the assembly of the Herschel Structural and Thermal Qualification model satellite is nearing completion with its two main modules, the payload module and the service module, already mated together.
The Herschel sunshield/sunshade structure, which also carries the solar array, is being installed before the assembled satellite undergoes mechanical vibration and shock tests to complete the environmental qualification campaign. This test is to ensure the satellite can cope with the vibrations experienced during launch by the Ariane V launcher.