Archive for the ‘Performance Verification’ Category

Smooth Running

October 31, 2009

Herschel is gently moving from performance verification phase to normal operations via the Science Demonstration phase. Currently various short observations are being made. These have all been offered by the large, Key Programme teams, and represent a the full range of possible observing modes. The idea is to get a set of initial scientific observations to make sure that the whole system is performing well and to get a flavour of the science results that will come from the longer mission.

This is all going rather nicely and it’s already clear that some excellent results are coming. Unfortunately these are all embargoed until ESA has a big meeting in the middle of December to make the first announcement of Herschel science results.

I can nevertheless tell you that good stuff is on its way.

In the meantime those of you in London might like to know about the next if Imperial College’s Great Debates. The subject this time is ‘Human Spaceflight: Science or Spectacle?” with your humble correspondent arguing for ‘spectacle’.

Details can be found here.

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PV Phase Continues

September 11, 2009

Things have been rather quiet of late. This isn’t because nothing is happening. Quite the opposite in fact – lots of work is being done to get the instruments fulling calibrated and their observing modes fully working.

Great progress is being made with our instrument, SPIRE, and lots of interesting things are being seen, but the scientists working on the instrument aren’t allowed to do science with the data being taken at the moment and anyway don’t have time to do it, since they’re hard at work getting the performance tests and calibration done.

Good things, very good things, are on their way though. The first public release of these will be in the middle of December once the initial science observations and the first steps of data analysis have been completed.

Herschel instruments ready for PV!

July 8, 2009

Since launch Herschel and its instruments have been going through a testing phase known as Commissioning. Essentially this means making sure everything still works after launch and making sure the whole system works as a whole. The next phase, called Performance Verification consists of much more detailed testing and calibration of the instruments to get them working at optimal performance and to establish all the calibration data needed for full scientific use.

Yesterday there was a review of all three instruments to determine their readiness to move from Commissioning Phase to Performance Verification Phase.

All three are ready to go, which places us one important step closer to real science with Herschel! I’m sure you’ll join me in congratulating the instrument teams on completing this phase successfully!