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Space Science

Successful Launch of ESA's Herschel and Planck 121

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the round-and-round-they-go dept.
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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Successful Launch of ESA's Herschel and Planck

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  • by tsalmark (1265778) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @11:48AM (#27951891) Homepage
    even if it is ten times more accurate than before, I think we have a long way to go.
  • SuperAccurate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wild_quinine (998562) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @11:48AM (#27951903) Homepage

    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.

    • I was thinking the exact same thing. Especially since that is over 10 times better than its predecessor.
      • 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 (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 14, 2009 @11:54AM (#27951995)

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

    • Blame rgarbacz (Score:5, Informative)

      by mangu (126918) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @12:02PM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by pwfffff (1517213)

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

        I think you dropped this: -

      • by Jantastic (196238)

        (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.

    • by rgarbacz (1450155)
      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.

    • by deglr6328 (150198)

      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 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sofar (317980) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @05:03PM (#27956989) Homepage

        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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TorKlingberg (599697)

        Probably waiting for Herschel to be finished so they could launched together.

    • by rgarbacz (1450155)
      As far as I know it is usually so, that any measuring device is described by specifying the maximum error, the exact is obviously not known (unless it is a systematic error), and the minimum error would be kind of not useful.

      Sorry for a colloquial expression, it of course refers to the maximum error of the device.
  • What? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

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

  • by Leafheart (1120885) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @11:51AM (#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.

    • by whathappenedtomonday (581634) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @12:00PM (#27952077) Journal
      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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by smooth wombat (796938)
        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?
        • by imsabbel (611519) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @12:34PM (#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...

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

            Huh? How can space have a temperature?

            • by borizz (1023175) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @01:49PM (#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.
              • 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.

                • by Patch86 (1465427) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @02:14PM (#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".

                  • by forand (530402) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @03:03PM (#27954707) Homepage
                    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: (Score:3, Interesting)

                      by jandersen (462034)

                      Well, you can with a fridge, which basically pumps the heat out of a confined space and heats the radiator grille on tha back, and you could in principle do the same for a satelite - in fact, I am pretty sure they do something similar to that in order to make the helium last for that long. But helium is pretty difficult to hold on to, it tends to leak out through any pressure seals, because it is comes as single atoms which are much smaller than even the two-atom molecules of hydrogen. And of course a cooli

                    • by forand (530402)
                      Hence the need for an active coolant instead of simply radiative or conductive cooling. You need a heat bath to dump the heat into to cool something down. That is the part that is hard to come by in space. Sure everything is very cold but it is not very conductive.
          • by Poorcku (831174)
            they should send the probe to the Boomerang Nebula [wikipedia.org]. It is only 5000 light years away and it is the coldest place in the universe. at least that we know of. it cooler than CMB itself at 1K. surely it is attainable. come on esa! :)
        • by whathappenedtomonday (581634) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @12:42PM (#27952653) Journal
          "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]
          • 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 thi

            • by powerlord (28156)

              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? (Score:3, Interesting)

              by camperdave (969942)
              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?
            • by Fungii (153063)

              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

        • by m50d (797211) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @12:43PM (#27952687) Homepage Journal
          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.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            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.

            • by m50d (797211)
              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.
        • by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot@nexuBALDWINsuk.org minus author> on Thursday May 14, 2009 @12:52PM (#27952791) Homepage

          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: (Score:3, Informative)

          by mmontour (2208)

          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.

        • by Cyberax (705495)

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

      • by jpflip (670957)

        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: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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.

    • by Kensai7 (1005287)

      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?!

  • Rumour spreadin a-round in that texas town,
    Bout that telescope outside the second Lagrange point.
    You know what I'm talkin' bout...
  • L2? (Score:3, Informative)

    by bradgoodman (964302) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @11:56AM (#27952025) Homepage
    What is "L2"?
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Some sort of cache I think.

    • Re:L2? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Morphine007 (207082) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @12:00PM (#27952083)
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Morphine007 (207082)
        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 positi
        • 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.

          • 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: (Score:1, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward
            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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MozeeToby (1163751)

          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.

    • A lagrange point.
    • Re:L2? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Ornedan (1093745) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @12:01PM (#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? (Score:4, Informative)

        by hcg50a (690062) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @02:35PM (#27954171) Journal

        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.

      • 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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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....

  • FFS (Score:1, Informative)

    by 1u3hr (530656)
    "new and long awaiting spacecrafts....both spacecrafts are cooled...Both spacecrafts are designed"

    Plural of "spacecraft" is "spacecraft".

    English, do you speak it?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by johannesg (664142)

      "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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by 1u3hr (530656)
        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.

      • by Quarters (18322)
        The plural of, "I don't care." is "We don't care."
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Plural of "spacecraft" is "spacecraft".

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

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by rgarbacz (1450155)
      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.
      • by johannesg (664142)

        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...

      • by 1u3hr (530656)
        Sorry if my remarks seemed intemperate. I should have made it clear that my contempt is directed at the editors.
    • by JamesP (688957)

      Plural of "spacecraft" is "spacecraft".

      But the plural should be spacecreft!

    • "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.

      • by 1u3hr (530656)
        Quoting 'Wiktionary':

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

    • by prefec2 (875483)

      I know it is not the most reliable source for English, but http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/spacecraft [wiktionary.org] says that both forms are correct you may write spacecrafts as well as spacecraft.

      By the way when all (or at least a large group) people who speak some sort of English start to use words differetly then this becomes the standard.

      It is like the s indicating genitive case in German. For example it was "Toms Buchladen" (TomÂs Bookshop) and nowadays you can also write "Tom's Bookshop" which I find completely

  • by yogibaer (757010) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @12:16PM (#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...
  • Happy launching (Score:4, Interesting)

    by KasperMeerts (1305097) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @12:18PM (#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

  • by joelsherrill (132624) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @12:38PM (#27952613) Homepage
    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: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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.

    • by powerlord (28156) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @02:19PM (#27953927) Journal

      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. ;)

  • 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 Acron

  • The launch vehicle's name is Ariane 5. The 'e' at the end makes a bit of a difference.
  • 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.
    • by dave420 (699308)
      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.
    • by m50d (797211)
      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.)
  • 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

    • by prefec2 (875483)

      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.

      No you are wrong. Not the matter and energy traveled away from a point in space. The space expanded. I know the phrase "Big Bang" implies an explosion, but it was no explosion it was an expansion. An expansion of space. Therefore nothing traveled. And space can theoretically expand faster than the speed of light.

  • Damn. I read the headline and my first thought was that ESA was a game company and "Herschel and Planck" was a cleverly named video game!
  • At first I thought this was a new spinoff game release. However I'd expect the title to come from SCEA, not ESA.

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