Cross-posted on Andrew Jaffe’s Blog and the Planck Mission Blog.
Planck and Herschel are en route to their orbit at L2!
We were about 7.5 km from the launch, at the “Agami” viewing site. Here is my golden ticket:
We all milled around for half an hour, snapping pictures of friends, eminent scientists, and at least one Nobel prize winner, but it all went silent when they announced the last few minutes before launch. The inevitable 10.9.8.7.184.108.40.206.2.1 and ignition was followed by a still, silent seven or so seconds, and then we saw the smoke and flames.
(Apologies for the poor quality; there were many people there with far more powerful zoom lenses than my meagre 2.5x.)
The rocket then pierced the clouds:
Soon after, the booster rockets separated (which those 200x telephoto lenses could capture), and soon all left to see with the naked eye was the rocket’s trail:
Huge thanks to the instrument teams for their hard work for more than the last decade. Soon, the hard part for us scientists and data-analysts begins: four or so years of data coming down from the satellite, being cleaned and calibrated, building and rebuilding our (computer) model of the instrument, letting us build and rebuild our models of the Universe.
Thanks also to the HFI Instrument Principle Investigator and co-PI, Jean-Loup Puget and Francois Bouchet (and especially Hélène Blavot) for arranging this extraordinary opportunity for us scientists to see this part of the fruits of our work.
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Thanks for sharing the pictures!