Award for satellite project team

The Herschel infrared space observatory. Credit: A9999 DB ESA/ AOES Medialab/DPA/PA Images

The Herschel and Plank project teams have been given this year's American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Space Systems Award.

Cardiff University's Astronomy Instrumentation Group was involved in the design of Herschel's SPIRE instrument. Members of the School of Physics and Astronomy are analysing data from the equipment.

Herschel, which operated from May 2009 until April 2013, carried the largest telescope ever built for a space observatory. Its 3.5 m-diameter primary mirror collected long-wavelength radiation from some of the coldest and most distant objects in the Universe, which was analysed with a payload of three scientific instruments.

The Planck satellite was designed to probe the remnants of the radiation that filled the Universe immediately after the Big Bang. It did this with a payload of two instruments that required innovative cooling technology to maintain them at a fraction of a degree above absolute zero.