Herschel, with its big 3.5 meter diameter mirror, is the biggest telescope to have been launched into orbit. The telscope will study the universe at infrared wavelengths, a region of the spectrum which has been relatively unexplored so far. The Department of Astronomy is strongly involved in the telescope, mainly through Göran Olofsson, Bengt Larsson and H-G Florén, who under many years have contributed technical and scientific expertise during the development phase. But more astronomers at the department intend to use the new space telescope, one being Alexis Brandeker, who is studying star and planet formation:

- Herschel is a fantastic instrument that will revolutionise our
understanding of star and planet formation, says Alexis Brandeker. Herschel is particularly suited to study the gas in the environments around young stars where we know that planets are formed and where the gas has a pivotal role. This gas cannot be seen from the ground, as our own atmosphere disturbs the view, which is the reason we need a telescope in orbit.

Other things researchers at the department hope to see are molecular oxygen from star forming regions and water from red giants, so called AGB-stars.

Herschel is expected to commence regular observations around new year and to continue for three more years.

On board the rocket was also the satellite Planck, which will map the cosmic microwave background radiation from the early universe with unmatched precision.

More information on Herschel and Planck can be found at ESA's homepage.