Planck and Herschel: Objective Big Bang

May 14, 2009

Air Liquide supplied the very low temperature cooling systems for the Planck and Herschel satellites launched on May 14, 2009.

For a better understanding of the Universe

In the framework of the programs run by the European Space Agency (ESA), the Herschel and Planck mission will be to better understand the formation and evolutions of the universe, from the Big Bang to the present day, notably by detecting the oldest radiation emitted by the Universe.

Planck and Herschel share the same requirement to reach the expected performance level: being cooled at extremely low temperatures.

To study fossil radiation, Planck must detect variations in temperature of the order of a millionth of a degree, in a range of temperatures close to 2.725K, the temperature of interstellar space. To do so, its measurement instruments must themselves be at a temperature below those observed. For Herschel, it is essential to reduce the detectors’ thermal emissions in order to not interfere with observation.

Accomplishing technological feats, Air Liquide has developed innovative onboard cryogenic technologies on these two scientific satellites that are absolutely indispensable for their operation.

For many years, the Group, through its Advanced Technologies activity, has been putting its expertise into very low temperature cryogenic systems, using liquid or superfluid helium for use in major European space and scientific programs.

With its competencies and technological expertise, the Group actively contributes to the opening of new markets in fields such as superconductivity for energy transportation and nuclear fusion as well as hydrogen as a clean energy carrier.