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Preparing to launch

The Herschel spacecraft assembly has been completed.
Provided by ESA, Noordwijk, Netherlands
herschel
A picture of the Herschel telescope resting on the cryostat, taken on April 16.
ESA
April 24, 2008
The mirror of the Herschel telescope has now been assembled with the payload and service module, completing the spacecraft structure &#8212 an important milestone in the days following through to launch.

The sunshield and solar arrays were assembled with the cryostat and service module on April 11. The telescope was assembled on April 16. The spacecraft will be subjected to several mechanical tests over the next few weeks.
herschel
The mirror of the Herschel telescope, with its protective cover, ready to be lifted for installation on to the cryostat.
ESA
The telescope mirror of the Herschel infrared observatory is a 3.5-meter diameter technological marvel. It is made from 12 silicon-carbide petals brazed together to form a single structure and coated with a layer of reflective aluminum, forming a remarkably lightweight mirror.

The fully-assembled telescope, which includes the primary mirror, the secondary mirror and its support structure, is a feathery 320 kilograms; remarkably low for such a sturdy structure capable of withstanding high launch loads and functioning precisely in the harsh environment of space.
herschel
The Herschel spacecraft’s sunshield being assembled with the solar array.
ESA
This powerful telescope will allow scientists to look deep into space, at long infrared wavelengths. Herschel's spectral coverage, which ranges from far-infrared to sub-millimeter wavelengths, will be made available for space-based observations for the first time.

Herschel will make it possible to observe and study relatively cool objects everywhere in the universe, from our own back yard to distant galaxies, teaching us much more about the birth and evolution of stars and galaxies.
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