Herschel Observatory decommissioned

Herschel Space ObservatoryThe European Space Agency officially shuts down the Herschel Space Observatory, having exhausted the unmanned orbital telescope’s remaining fuel supply with a maneuver to push it safely out of Earth’s L2 LaGrange point, opening that part of space up for future missions. Herschel’s science observations had ended when its supply of helium coolant, required to keep its instruments super-cooled to detect distant objects at the far-infrared end of the spectrum, ran out in April. Its replacement, the Gaia Space Observatory, is already being prepared for launch by ESA later in 2013.