Launched in May 2009, the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory has the largest single mirror ever built for a space telescope. At 3.5-metres in diameter the mirror collects long-wavelength radiation from some of the coldest and most distant objects in the Universe. In addition, Herschel is the only space observatory to cover a spectral range from the far infrared to sub-millimetre.
Herschel is equipped with three instruments: two cameras and a very high resolution spectrometer, enable it to study the formation of galaxies in the early universe and their subsequent evolution; investigate the creation and evolution of stars and planetary systems and examine the molecular chemistry of the universe.
Imperial College London
STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
STFC UK Astronomy Technology Centre