SPIRE back on the air!


We’re not observing the sky yet, but SPIRE is back as the operating instrument on Herschel at the moment.

The cooler has been recycled some more times, most recently in an entirely automatic mode while Herschel was out of contact with the ground station, and it worked perfectly!

The detectors are now a little bit colder than before, at about 290mK, so SPIRE continues to be the coldest thing in space. The main sub-instrument being tested at the moment is the spectrometer side. This is a fourier transform spectrometer and is thus essentially an interferometer where we need to be able to acquire fringes as the mirrors are scanned. This is a critical step, and we now have our first fringes!

The other news from the current campaign is that we have tested the calibration system. All seems to be going well with this sub-system as well!

So, much progress since our last report.

You can keep up to date on this minute by minute on the SPIRE twitter.


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