Planck and Herschel successfully launched today, after 21 and 25 years of development respectively! At Manchester, we had a launch party, with somewhere around 100 people packed into a room watching the live satellite feed. The event was twittered live, and we had a screen at the front showing live Twitter comments from people around the world about the launch.
Planck will be mapping the Cosmic Microwave Background – similar to how it has already been mapped by WMAP and COBE, but at a much higher resolution and accuracy. It will be observing the oldest radiation in the universe, and probing back to the very beginnings of the universe. Herschel will be observing at far infrared and submillimeter wavelengths, looking at the evolution of gas to form stars and galaxies.
Lots of people at Jodrell have been involved with the creation of Planck – ranging from the creation of the world’s best low noise amplifiers for the instrument, to testing Planck and making sure that it’s ready for observations – and in the future will be analysing its data and producing cosmology from it.
Congratulations to all involved with the design, creation and launch of these two spacecraft! The Universe awaits your observations…