MOSCOW, October 23 (RIA Novosti) – Europe’s Planck space observatory will be switched off on Wednesday after four years of mapping the universe, head of the Planck mission Steve Foley told RIA Novosti.
Foley said the final command to switch of the spacecraft, which was put in a disposal orbit in mid-August, will be given at 12:00 GMT (4:00 p.m. Moscow time).
Planck was launched on board of an Ariane 5 rocket from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) 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.
Four 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.