MOSCOW, August 15 (RIA Novosti) – After four years of mapping the universe, Europe’s Planck space observatory has been put in a disposal orbit and will soon be switched off, the European Space Agency (ESA) said Thursday.
“After 1,554 days of operations, ESA's Planck space telescope yesterday departed from its orbit around L2. The new trajectory ensures no encounter with Earth for 300 years. On October 23, Planck will be turned off, completing its four-year successful mission,” ESA wrote on its Google+ page.
Planck was launched on board of an Ariane 5 rocket from ESA’s space center in Kourou, French Guiana, on May 14, 2009, sharing the ride with the infrared Herschel Space Observatory.
The prime objective of the huge Planck space telescope was mapping the relic radiation from the Big Bang with improved sensitivity and resolution, and testing theories on the birth and evolution of the universe.
Two months ago, ESA’s specialists also switched off the Herschel Space Observatory, which was developed by ESA in collaboration with NASA and named after British astronomer William Herschel.