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Herschel and Planck wins French Grand Prix


Artist's impression of Herschel (left) Planck spacecraft (right). An Esa photo

NEW DELHI (BNS): ESA’s Herschel and Planck science missions have been honoured with the Grand Prix 2010 award for “outstanding space endeavours.”

The award was bestowed in recognition of the more than 20 years of work in research and development in bringing these outstanding missions to fruition, Esa said.

ESA officials gathered Wednesday at the Salons de l’Aéro-Club de France, Paris, to receive the award given every year by the French Association for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AAAF) to those who have demonstrated true success and made significant advances.

Herschel is an infrared space observatory fully four times larger than any other infrared space telescope previously launched, and 1.5 times larger than the Hubble Space Telescope.

It is studying the coldest parts of the Universe, searching for otherwise hidden examples of forming stars, planets and galaxies.

Planck is studying the ‘echo’ of the Big Bang, mapping the subtle ripples in the microwaves that bathe space. The instruments are so precise Planck is expected to take the best pictures that are physically possible of this microwave radiation.

“These two extraordinary missions are set to revolutionise our view of the far-infrared and millimetre wavelength sky, combining to yield important new results about baby stars and planets still forming today in the Milky Way, and stretching all the way back to the birth of the Universe itself, more than 13 billion years ago,” said Mark McCaughrean, head of the Research and Scientific Support Department at ESA.

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