Saturday May 16th 2009. Day 2.


It is hard to believe that we are actually in space. Everything has gone so smoothly so far that it is almost getting alarming. A picture-perfect launch and, to date, check-out is showing only very minor problems. Taking into account that Herschel is such an incredibly complex piece of machinery and has so many components it seems almost miraculous that everything has gone so well. However, as everyone realises, it is still fery early days. We are just waking Herschel up slowly and getting it functional. Nothing very complicated has been tried so far and all the instruments are still switched off. Things may look very different in a week’s time as we switch on the instruments one by one.


Right now Herschel is still being led by the hand by the Mission Controllers in Darmstadt. Until Herschel passes its health check it will not be allowed to do anything on its own. Every command is being passed down the chain from Mission Control and being sent direct to Herschel: what we call Manual Commanding. Not until Day 12 will we send instructions up for Herschel to execute autonomously later.


Yesterday there was a small orbit correction manoeuvre. Herschel is extremely close to the correct trajectory and only tiny adjustments in its track are necessary.


Amateur astronomers continue to get amazing sequences of images. You can check out some of the best ones in the unofficial Herschel Image of the Day archive, here:


Frequent updates are provided during the day on the Herschel Twitter (ESAHerschel) here: