Probing the Cold Universe

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Science  31 Jul 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5940, pp. 546-547
DOI: 10.1126/science.1177305

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The successful launch of the Herschel and Planck satellites on 14 April 2009 was a great achievement of the European Space Agency. With a mirror diameter of 3.5 m, the Herschel Space Observatory is the largest space telescope ever launched. The complex dual launch went perfectly, and both missions are performing well. After removing the cover of the cryostat housing the instruments on 14 June, Herschel was pointed to the famous M51 “whirlpool” galaxy and produced an impressive first image (see the figure), with an immediate resolution improvement over previous far-infrared missions.