Very, very cool – this is an animation of images taken by Herschel’s Visual Monitoring Camera (VMC) shortly after separation from the Planck-Sylda composite at 15:38 CEST on 14 May 2009. The images show the composite receding behind Herschel; Earth’s surface is in the background. The two satellites were travelling at about 10 km/s, 1150 km above the east coast of Africa.
And *this* is probably the last ever picture of Herschel and Planck:
Herschel, Planck and the Sylda seen from ground after separation from the upper stage of the Ariane 5, just hours after launch, starting at 23:30 CEST on 14 May.
The 1m Zeiss telescope at ESA’s Optical Ground Station Station at Tenerife in Spain searched and followed Herschel and Planck. At the time the images were taken, Herschel, Planck and the Sylda support structure were travelling at an altitude of about 100 000 km from Earth.
Four bright objects are clearly visible in the images, three of them form a clear triplet moving in coordination in the centre (the Sylda is the fainter of the three). The fourth object standing is presumed to be the upper stage of the Ariane 5.