Posts Tagged ‘HIFI’

HIFI Returns!

January 15, 2010

Reports from various places, including its builders SRON and the BBC reveal that the HIFI instrument on Herschel is now back to full working order.

This is great news for Herschel as it means its third instrument, which gives it high resolution spectroscopic capabilities needed to fully understand the chemistry and physics of star formation, is back!

There’s a whole lot of information about recent science results we hope to post over the next few weeks as well.

HIFI wakes from its slumber

December 8, 2009

Some excellent news to report – the HIFI instrument on Herschel (the high resolution spectrometer) has been successfully switched on after lying dormant for 4 months, after suffering an unwanted voltage peak in the electronic system of HIFI, which in August led to a faulty diode in a DC/DC convertor.

After several months of troubleshooting and the development of a new operating procedure to prevent a similar occurence, HIFI was commanded to switch on using its redundant electronics chain on Sunday, followed by an upload of revised software and a “Short Functional Test” – a complete HIFI health check. All were carried out successfully.

The next step in HIFI’s rehab comes in the new year – the instrument was only starting its performance verification effort, so an an intense post-Christmas re-commissioning and calibration campaign is required to bring HIFI back up to speed and ready to use for regular observing as per SPIRE and PACS.

And HIFI makes three!

July 15, 2009

As well as the first light images from PACS and SPIRE, HIFI, the high resolution spectrometer on Herschel, also released its first light spectra last week.

HIFI First Light Spectra

This shows lines from ionized carbon, CO and water molecules within the cloud. These lines are totally inaccessible from beneath the Earth’s atmosphere so there have been few studies of them until now. The broad Carbon line at the position of a young, forming star shows the effects of the powerful winds streaming from the star’s surface. To be able to produce spectra so good from an instrument that has yet to be tuned and optimized is quite an achievement!

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!


May 29, 2009

Things have been a bit quiet for us over the last few days as the other two Herschel instruments, PACS and HIFI, have their first tests. Things are going well with them so far, as far as we’ve heard, and SPIRE will be back to bat soon!

And all the time Herschel is getting further away from us and closer to its destination at L2.