Planck spacecraft follows Herschel to launch site

February 20, 2009
The Planck spacecraft, inside its container, was depicted on 18 February 2009 on board the Antonov cargo plane that transported it from Ličge airport to Kourou, French Guyana. Credits: ESA

(PhysOrg.com) -- Planck, ESA’s microwave observatory that will study the relic radiation of the Big Bang, was shipped from Ličge, Belgium, to Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on 18 February. The spacecraft is scheduled to be launched in tandem with ESA’s Herschel infrared observatory on 16 April.

The spacecraft took off from Ličge airport on board an Antonov cargo plane early in the morning on 18 February and arrived at its destination that evening. This follows the earlier shipment of its sister spacecraft Herschel, which left for Kourou on 11 February.

Before it was shipped, Planck successfully underwent a thorough test campaign at the Centre Spatial Ličge. The spacecraft was subjected to environmental tests that simulated the conditions of space and tested its cooling system.

Now the launch campaign for both Herschel and Planck has officially begun in Kourou. The campaign involves teams of engineers and scientists from ESA, industry (led by prime contractor Thales Alenia Space France), science institutes, and Arianespace.

Like Herschel, Planck will undergo functional tests in the first phase of the campaign, to verify its health after transportation.

The second phase of the campaign involves the delicate operation of fuelling the hydrazine tanks — which will provide the fuel necessary for the spacecraft to manoeuvre in space — and to fill the helium tanks, part of the sophisticated cooling system that will keep Planck’s instruments at temperatures close to absolute zero during operation.

The third phase is the integration of the Herschel and Planck satellites with the Ariane 5 launcher that will carry them into space.

Provided by ESA

Explore further: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter views Schiaparelli landing site

Related Stories

Venus Express launch campaign starts

August 4, 2005

ESA’s Venus Express spacecraft has just completed its last phase of testing in Europe and is ready to be shipped to its launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Recommended for you

Hubble catches a transformation in the Virgo constellation

December 9, 2016

The constellation of Virgo (The Virgin) is especially rich in galaxies, due in part to the presence of a massive and gravitationally-bound collection of over 1300 galaxies called the Virgo Cluster. One particular member of ...

Scientists sweep stodgy stature from Saturn's C ring

December 9, 2016

As a cosmic dust magnet, Saturn's C ring gives away its youth. Once thought formed in an older, primordial era, the ring may be but a mere babe – less than 100 million years old, according to Cornell-led astronomers in ...

Khatyrka meteorite found to have third quasicrystal

December 9, 2016

(Phys.org)—A small team of researchers from the U.S. and Italy has found evidence of a naturally formed quasicrystal in a sample obtained from the Khatyrka meteorite. In their paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

deatopmg
not rated yet Feb 21, 2009
the 2.7°K so called "background radiation" is so uniform that it simply cannot be from a big bang. The whole (hole?) big bang theory is so contorted and full of crap it appears to have been written by a gaggle of tort lawyers.
Science is about simplicity and elegance.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.