Herschel and Planck slide across the sky

By Phil Plait | May 15, 2009 1:00 pm

Yesterday, the European Space Agency successfully launched the space observatories Herschel and Planck. Today, they released two cool videos of the event: one was taken by the spacecraft itself and shows the Planck payload moving away from Herschel.

The other video was taken by a one-meter tracking ‘scope in the Canary Islands, and shows the two spacecraft together with the Sylda launch vehicle gliding across the sky a few hours after the two observatories separated from the vehicle:

Whoa, that’s cool. The two bright objects are Herschel and Planck, and the dimmer one is the Sylda.

I love love love that this type of imagery is becoming available. It certainly helps engineers on the ground characterize the launch and trajectory of the spacecraft, but it’s also a visceral reminder that humanity has left its footprint in space. May many more join them.

Credit: ESA. Tip o’ the payload shroud to Douglas Scott for letting me know I had the timing wrong initially; the animation was made hours after separation, not minutes.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Pretty pictures, Space

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