Telescopes ready for rocket ride 欧盟天文望远镜准备上天
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One of the most important launches in European spaceflight history is about to take place in French Guiana.



It will be the most valuable science launch in European spaceflight history

Two telescopes with a combined value of 1.9bn euros (£1.7bn) are being sent into orbit on a single Ariane rocket(阿丽亚娜火箭).

The Herschel and Planck observatories1 will probe the sky to glean2 new information about the origins and evolution of the cosmos3.

The ride into space from the Kourou spaceport should last just under half an hour.

The astronomical4 satellites will then separate from the rocket more than 11,000km above the Earth and take separate paths out to observing positions some 1.5 million km from the planet on its "night-side".

"This is the result of many years' hard work by thousands of scientists and engineers across Europe," said European Space Agency (Esa) director-general Jean-Jacques Dordain.

"The technology onboard these satellites is unique, and the science these satellites will do is fantastic," he told BBC News on the eve of the launch.

The scheduled lift-off is timed for 1312 GMT (1412 BST; 1512 CEST).

Herschel is the largest telescope anyone has yet tried to put in space.

Its 3.5m-diameter primary mirror is one-and-a-half-times the size of Hubble's main reflector.

Such size would ordinarily incur5(招致,蒙受) a huge weight penalty but the Herschel mirror has been kept to just 350kg by constructing it from silicon6 carbide(碳化硅), a novel ceramic7 material(陶瓷材料).

The telescope will be sensitive to far-infrared8 and sub-millimetre (radio) wavelengths9 of light, allowing it to peer through clouds of dust and gas to see stars at the moment they are born.

This infrared capability10 will also enable Herschel to look deep into space, to gaze at those galaxies11 that thrived when the Universe was roughly a half to a fifth of its present age. It is a period in cosmic history when it is thought star formation was at its most prolific12(多产的).

"Herschel is going to help us understand much, much better how stars form right now and how they have been forming throughout billions of years of cosmic history; and therefore, indirectly13, it's going to help us understand how our own Sun and our own Solar System formed," Dr Göran Pilbratt, Esa's Herschel project scientist, told BBC News.

The spacecraft carries an enormous flask14 of "superfluid" helium(氦) to chill its instruments and detectors15 close to minus 273C (or "absolute zero", the point beyond which no further cooling is possible).

"We are observing at long wavelengths where all warm objects glow, so we need to cool the telescope and the instruments as much as possible, otherwise the weak signals we are trying to detect from the sky will be totally swamped(淹没) by radiation emitted by the telescope itself," said Professor Matt Griffin from Herschel's Spire16 instrument team.


1 observatories d730b278442c711432218e89314e2a09     
n.天文台,气象台( observatory的名词复数 )
  • John Heilbron, The Sun in the Church: Cathedrals as Solar Observatories, 3-23. 约翰.海耳布隆,《教会里的太阳:教堂即太阳观测台》,第3-23页。 来自互联网
  • Meteorologists use satellites, land observatories and historical data to provide information about the weather. 气象学家使用卫星、上天文台和历史资料来提供有关天气的信息。 来自互联网
2 glean Ye5zu     
  • The little information that we could glean about them was largely contradictory.我们能够收集到的有关它们的少量信息大部分是自相矛盾的。
  • From what I was able to glean,it appears they don't intend to take any action yet.根据我所收集到的资料分析,他们看来还不打算采取任何行动。
3 cosmos pn2yT     
  • Our world is but a small part of the cosmos.我们的世界仅仅是宇宙的一小部分而已。
  • Is there any other intelligent life elsewhere in the cosmos?在宇宙的其他星球上还存在别的有智慧的生物吗?
4 astronomical keTyO     
  • He was an expert on ancient Chinese astronomical literature.他是研究中国古代天文学文献的专家。
  • Houses in the village are selling for astronomical prices.乡村的房价正在飙升。
5 incur 5bgzy     
  • Any costs that you incur will be reimbursed in full.你的所有花费都将全额付还。
  • An enterprise has to incur certain costs and expenses in order to stay in business.一个企业为了维持营业,就不得不承担一定的费用和开支。
6 silicon dykwJ     
  • This company pioneered the use of silicon chip.这家公司开创了使用硅片的方法。
  • A chip is a piece of silicon about the size of a postage stamp.芯片就是一枚邮票大小的硅片。
7 ceramic lUsyc     
  • The order for ceramic tiles has been booked in.瓷砖的订单已登记下来了。
  • Some ceramic works of art are shown in this exhibition.这次展览会上展出了一些陶瓷艺术品。
8 infrared dx0yp     
  • Infrared is widely used in industry and medical science.红外线广泛应用于工业和医学科学。
  • Infrared radiation has wavelengths longer than those of visible light.红外辐射的波长比可见光的波长长。
9 wavelengths 55c7c1db2849f4af018e7824d42c3ff2     
n.波长( wavelength的名词复数 );具有相同的/不同的思路;合拍;不合拍
  • I find him difficult to talk to—we're on completely different wavelengths. 我没法和他谈话,因为我们俩完全不对路。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Sunlight consists of different wavelengths of radiation. 阳光由几种不同波长的射线组成。 来自辞典例句
10 capability JsGzZ     
  • She has the capability to become a very fine actress.她有潜力成为杰出演员。
  • Organizing a whole department is beyond his capability.组织整个部门是他能力以外的事。
11 galaxies fa8833b92b82bcb88ee3b3d7644caf77     
星系( galaxy的名词复数 ); 银河系; 一群(杰出或著名的人物)
  • Quasars are the highly energetic cores of distant galaxies. 类星体是遥远星系的极为活跃的核心体。
  • We still don't know how many galaxies there are in the universe. 我们还不知道宇宙中有多少个星系。
12 prolific fiUyF     
  • She is a prolific writer of novels and short stories.她是一位多产的作家,写了很多小说和短篇故事。
  • The last few pages of the document are prolific of mistakes.这个文件的最后几页错误很多。
13 indirectly a8UxR     
  • I heard the news indirectly.这消息我是间接听来的。
  • They were approached indirectly through an intermediary.通过一位中间人,他们进行了间接接触。
14 flask Egxz8     
  • There is some deposit in the bottom of the flask.这只烧杯的底部有些沉淀物。
  • He took out a metal flask from a canvas bag.他从帆布包里拿出一个金属瓶子。
15 detectors bff80b364ed19e1821aa038fae38df83     
探测器( detector的名词复数 )
  • The report advocated that all buildings be fitted with smoke detectors. 报告主张所有的建筑物都应安装烟火探测器。
  • This is heady wine for experimenters using these neutrino detectors. 对于使用中微子探测器的实验工作者,这是令人兴奋的美酒。 来自英汉非文学 - 科技
16 spire SF3yo     
  • The church spire was struck by lightning.教堂的尖顶遭到了雷击。
  • They could just make out the spire of the church in the distance.他们只能辨认出远处教堂的尖塔。