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The story of Europe’s space telescope

Inspecting the mirror of the Herschel telescope (Courtesy: ESA).

By Hamish Johnston

At 11.00 am GMT today BBC Radio 4 is running the first in a two part series about the Herschel space telescope, which was launched earlier this year.

If you are not in the UK, you should be able to listen online — or listen later to an archived version.

Here’s what the Beeb says about the series:

“Following the engineers and astronomers who are working on the biggest telescope ever sent to space, in one of the most important missions in the history of European spaceflight. Jonathon Amos joins Professor Matt Griffin of Cardiff University and his international team as they aim to peer through the areas in space that are invisible to other telescopes. This is the story of how the team is aiming to solve the mystery of galaxy and star formation, and how these processes eventually gave rise to life-bearing planets like Earth.

“In this episode, the team approach the biggest milestone in their 20-year project – the launch of their work on a rocket from a spaceport in French Guiana. Will it all go safely?

There’s no mention of the Planck microwave observatory, which was launched at the same time as Herschel — but hopefully Amos will touch on its mission to study the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation – a remnant of the Big Bang

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