A quick introduction from me – my name is Brian O’Halloran, and I’m a member of the SPIRE ICC team based at Imperial College London and I’ll be contributing to the Herschel Blog from now on.
As you might expect. things are really beginning to ramp up for Herschel’s launch next month. At the end of of February, we on the SPIRE team received the following wonderful news from Kourou:
“After final functional testing at Kourou, SPIRE has been declared ready for launch. Our next tests will be done in flight.”
So now the fun and games really begin! Next stop (assuming no show stoppers) will be launch – targeted for April 16th.
The BBC has a rather nice article on Herschel and Planck at Kourou, and gives you some insight into the final testing, and the vehicle integration with the Ariane 5 booster.
Check out the audio interviews – in particular from Tanya Lim (RAL), on Herschel’s scientific goals.
As we speak, the various Herschel instrument teams are furiously working away to get everything on the operations side ready for launch – mission planning, observation planning for the performance verification and science demonstration phases post-launch, getting the Herschel data reduction software operational etc. – it’s now a 7-day week for a lot of people across ESA and beyond.
A key pre-launch event will come in late March, when data reduction workshops will be held in Madrid for team members from the successful Herschel Key Program proposal groups – time awarded early in the Herschel programme for large, fundamental observing programs. This is to get the respective groups up to speed with handling and reducing their data once they get it hand post-launch and commissioning phases. We want groups to be confident in dealing with Herschel data as soon as possible – and for papers to appear as quickly as possible, based on their datasets. It’s yet another sign that we’re now just about to move into the Herschel operational phase!