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Herschel and Planck to log one year of successes in space


First Herschel results to be presented to the medias on May 6, 2010

Cannes - On May 14, 2009, an Ariane 5 lifted off from French Guiana with one of its most ambitious payload ever, not one but two deep space observatories – Herschel and Planck – designed to answer crucial questions regarding the origins, evolution and fate of the Universe and its components. These two jewels of high technology, considered as the most complex satellites ever produced in Europe, were both developed and built by an industrial team led by Thales Alenia Space under the largest contract ever awarded by the European Space Agency for a science mission.

The two spacecraft were successfully released on a trajectory that led them to enter orbit around the L2 stability point, some 1.5 million kilometers from Earth in the opposite direction from the Sun. This unique venture point provides the two observatories with round-the-clock observation capabilities far from the thermal and lightning disturbances existing in the vicinity of our planet.

Since they’ve reached their operational orbit and completed their commissioning, Herschel and Planck have been providing a flow of data of tremendous quality to the science community. Scientists are now eager to reveal their findings based on what is only the first season of an unprecedented vision of our Universe.

While Planck has already once mapped the complete universe and is starting its second mapping, with Herschel many science observations have been conducted since then and these new results will be presented to the medias on May 6 2010 in ESTEC.

For Thales Alenia Space and its industrial partners, the successes logged by Herschel and Planck is a demonstration of the high level of engineering and technological skills achieved by their teams. It also illustrates the success of an intricate cooperation between Thales Alenia Space, its institutional partners, the European Space Agency and the observatory’s final users – namely the science community – to deliver them the best tools to perform the most demanding and the most rewarding missions.

Thales Alenia Space’s unique expertise and know-how were built on the development of many prestigious science missions for the European Space Agencies, national agencies including NASA, such as the Hipparcos astrometry mission, the Infrared Space Observatory (ISO), the BeppoSAX X-ray observatory, the Cassini/Huygens mission to Saturn and Titan, the International Gamma Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (Integral) and the Corot planet-finder as well as a major contribution to many others including Mars and Venus Express orbiters or the Rosetta comet chaser.

Tomorrow, this expertise will be provided to meet future science endeavors like the ExoMars missions for the exploration of the Red Planet and other missions to be decided to expand the reach of our scientific knowledge.

About Thales Alenia Space
European leader in satellite systems and a major player in orbital infrastructures, Thales Alenia Space is a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Finmeccanica (33%). Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio embody the two groups’ “Space Alliance”. Thales Alenia Space sets the global standard in solutions for space telecoms, radar and optical Earth observation, defense and security, navigation and science. The company, which achieved revenues of Euro 2 billion in 2009, has a total of 7,200 employees located in 11 industrial sites in France, Italy, Spain and Belgium.


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