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News archive

The discovery of a previously unresolved population of galaxies in the GOODS fields and the first measurements of properties of galaxies in the almost unexplored far-infrared domain are among the first exciting scientific results achieved by Herschel's PACS and SPIRE instruments. These findings confirm the extraordinary capabilities of ESA's new infrared space observatory to investigate the formation and evolution of galaxies.
Published: 6 May 2010
Herschel's HIFI instrument was especially designed to follow the water trail in the Universe over a wide range of scales, from the Solar System out to extragalactic sources. Early results, presented this week at the Herschel First Results Symposium, demonstrate how HIFI uses water to probe the physical and chemical conditions in different regions of the cosmos.
Published: 6 May 2010
This detailed spectrum of the Orion Nebula obtained with the HIFI instrument onboard Herschel demonstrates the gold mine of information that Herschel-HIFI will provide on how organic molecules form in space
Published: 4 March 2010
The HIFI instrument onboard Herschel has been successfully switched on, after being inactive due to an unexpected anomaly in the electronic system. This achievement brings Herschel back to its full observing capacity.
Published: 18 January 2010
Initial results from the Herschel science demonstration phase have been presented by and to the scientific community at a workshop organised by the Herschel Science Centre and held 17-18 December 2009 in Spain.
Published: 21 December 2009
Herschel spectroscopy takes centre stage today as new spectra, obtained with the SPIRE, PACS and HIFI instruments during the performance verification phase, are released by ESA and the instrument teams.
Published: 27 November 2009
A Herschel workshop will be held on 17 to 18 December 2009 to present the initial results of the on-going Herschel science demonstration phase (SDP). The workshop will take stock of results achieved to date with the Herschel SDP observations.
Published: 18 November 2009
Images obtained during the performance verification phase demonstrate that the 'SPIRE/PACS parallel mode', an important observing mode for the observatory, is delivering the expected performance.
Published: 2 October 2009
The first images and spectra obtained with the three Herschel instruments (HIFI, PACS and SPIRE) demonstrate their excellent condition and provide a foretaste of the exciting science that is to come.
Published: 10 July 2009
Just one month after launch, test images obtained by the PACS instrument on Herschel provide a tantalising glimpse at things to come.
Published: 19 June 2009
The Herschel and Planck ground segments have successfully passed another milestone on the path to launch.
Published: 27 November 2008
During the course of the past few months the integration of the Herschel spacecraft has taken place at the Astrium facility in Friedrichshafen, Germany
Published: 19 September 2007
Herschel's primary mirror blank has been transported to Finland for a final polish prior to the application of the reflective aluminium layer early next year.
Published: 6 July 2004

Towards the end of last year a key milestone was reached for the Herschel mission - the completion of the silicon carbide primary mirror blank.

Published: 18 February 2004
It must be one of the oldest questions. When you gaze at the sky, you marvel at its immensity. Have you ever, at some stage of your life, looked up into the night sky and wondered just how many stars there are in space? The question has fascinated scientists as well as philosophers, musicians, and dreamers through the ages.
Published: 27 February 2003
Astrium will build the 3.5-metre mirror for ESA's Herschel Space Observatory Giant telescopes with primary mirrors of 8 metres in diameter are now common on the ground, but it will take a while before they can jump into space. The first 'space giant' to come will be on ESA's Herschel Space Observatory, to be launched in 2007.
Published: 15 October 2001
On 2 April 2001 the Director of Science issued an Announcement of Opportunity for a Herschel Optical Systems Scientist. In the interest of appointing the Optical Systems Scientist on a short timescale, the deadline for submitting a Letter of Intent is 12 April, and the Proposals are due by 25 April. Note, however, that a proposal may be submitted even if a Letter of Intent has not been sent in time for the deadline.
Published: 6 April 2001
On 14 March, in Paris, ESA's Industrial Policy Committee approved the awarding of the main contract for the manufacture of the Herschel and Planck scientificsatellites. This contract, the largest so far for a space science project undertaken by ESA, has been awarded to a European industrial consortium led by Alcatel Space Industries of France, with Astrium GmbH of Germany and Alenia Spazio of Italy also as main contractors.
Published: 19 March 2001
In science, new answers often trigger new questions. And in astronomy, new questions often mean new instruments. The ESA 'Herschel Space Observatory', formerly called 'Far Infrared and Submillimetre Telescope' (FIRST), is the instrument that inherits many of the questions triggered by its predecessor, ESA's Infrared Space Observatory (ISO). 200 astronomers from all over the world met last week in Toledo, Spain, to discuss how to insert these new questions in Herschel's 'scientific agenda'. Thus, Herschel will study the origin of stars and galaxies -its main goals-, but it will also keep on searching for water in space -as ISO did-, and will help us to understand the formation of our own Solar System through detailed observations of comets and of the poorly known 'transneptunian objects'.
Published: 21 December 2000
There are still quite a lot of unsolved mysteries in our neighbourhood, the Solar System. Astronomers knowvery little, for instance, about the so-called 'transneptunian objects': a ring of asteroid-type bodies located beyond planet Neptune. Dutch astronomer Gerald Kuiper predicted the existence of this 'belt' fifty years ago - it is therefore named the 'Kuiper belt'-, but the first detection of one of its constituent bodies only happened in 1992. Further surveys have provided an estimate of how many objects are actually there: possibly 10.000 bodies with a diameter larger than 300 kilometres, and maybe three million larger than 30 kilometres in diameter. Only 300 of them have been observed so far. The list of pending questions about them is very long: what's their precise origin and composition? Which of the comets that periodically visit the Earth are 'Kuiper objects'? ESA's next infrared space telescope, the Herschel Space Observatory - formerly called 'FIRST' - will help to provide the answers, astronomers gathered in Toledo (Spain) said yesterday.
Published: 14 December 2000
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