Posts Tagged ‘commissioning’

SPIRE back on the air!

June 1, 2009

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.


Just before switch on…

May 22, 2009

Ready to go?

A picture of the SPIRE instrument team at the ESA Operations Centre in Darmstadt just before they turn SPIRE on for the first time.

Things went well, so a later photo would show a rather more relaxed team!

Instrument team Twitter

May 20, 2009

Those of you who are interested in following detailed reports of the SPIRE instrument switch on and testing can find them on our Twitter feed:

Some of it can be a bit technical, but it gives a very good view of the detailed process of commissioning a newly launched space instrument. If you’d like to understand some of the terminology you could always ask here and we’ll see if we can answer!