Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bye, "Planck": Esa send last command to Space Telescope - Spiegel Online

Four and a half years, circled the ESA telescope “Planck” in the service of science around the Earth. However, its use is now at an end. On Wednesday afternoon, the Esa Space Operations sent in Darmstadt (Esoc) the last control command to the two-ton observatory. It now moves far away from the earth its tracks as a great mountain of high-tech scrap.

With the help of “Planck” researchers had observed the relic radiation of the Big Bang, and more specifically the so-called cosmic microwave background radiation. The measurements were significantly more accurate than previous NASA missions “Cobe” or “Wmap” or a Soviet instrument on the satellite “Prognoz 9″.

radiation testifies to the time when the universe was just 380,000 years old. Today, there are 13.8 billion years – also has found the telescope


addition, the show was published in March interim results, the cosmos is something put together differently than you thought. Through the “Planck” data obtained from the mass or energy density distribution following:

  • Dark Matter: 26.8 percent (previous forecast: 22.7 percent)
  • Ordinary Matter: 4.9 percent (previous forecast: 4.5 percent)
  • Dark Energy: 68.3 percent (previous forecast: 72.8 percent)
“The image created by the Planck cosmic microwave background radiation is the sharpest ‘baby photo’ of the universe,” says Alvaro Giménez, ESA’s Director of Science and Robotic Exploration. “The wealth of data to be evaluated by our cosmologists still will give us more details.”

depleted coolant

The tricky at the Mission: The instruments of the observatory had to be cooled down to just a tenth of a degree above absolute zero. Just as the weak microwave signals were not distorted by the sensible heat of the satellite.

“Planck” was thus able to detect temperature variations of a few millionths of a degree. That worked pretty well as far. Originally, the entire sky should be completely scanned twice. At the end of the two instruments managed together five runs on board. And one of the two even came to eight.

used for cooling liquid helium was thereby gradually depleted. The coolant level in the high-frequency instrument was in January 2012 to the end. The Low Frequency Instrument has until 3 October this year will be used – and then also had to be turned off about two weeks later. “We were very depressed when we made the last operations of ‘Planck’,” said Steve Foley, “Planck” Flight Operations Manager in Esoc.

The telescope was positioned far beyond the moon, the so-called Lagrange point 2 There, about 1.5 million kilometers from the Earth’s orbit, the instruments were particularly well protected by the earth from solar radiation. Of its place of use of the telescope was moved to the ESA from August to a still more remote location parking orbit. Here also the last residues of fuel were consumed. A filling was never intended. The new lift is to ensure that the earth is the telescope captures not again for at least the next 300 years – and it continues in the silence of space to swim your laps



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