A large international project like Herschel requires a lot of meetings so that things can be properly coordinated. I’m currently at a consortium meeting for the SPIRE instrument team. The meeting is in Padova, where the university’s astronomy department is overlooked by the observatory used by Galileo – I suspect this must be more than a little intimidating for students there! The SPIRE team is actually too big for the meeting rooms in the astronomy department so we’re meeting in the nearby department of theology, which seems to have larger and nicer facilities than the astronomers!
Apart from discussing various instrumental issues, such as calibration, pointing accuracy, performance and subsystems, we’re also getting reports from the various science teams that are using the instrument team’s guaranteed time on Herschel. It’s only about 6 weeks since the ESLAB meeting where the first Herschel science results came out, but there’s already lots of new stuff on its way. The preparations for ESLAB, and its associated science papers, was a bit frenetic. We’re now able to sit back and take a rather more measured approach to these new results. So there’ll be no new big explosion of results, but we’ll be releasing longer and rather more extensive papers in the next phase. Needless to say we’ll try to cover as many of these as possible on this blog!