HIFI status under investigation

4 September 2009

Herschel’s Heterodyne Instrument for the Far Infrared, HIFI, was switched off temporarily after an anomaly was registered. An investigation is under way.

The instrument first registered the anomaly on 3 August. The chain of events that led to the anomaly is being traced back through the telemetry received from the spacecraft. On ground, engineers are simulating this chain of events on spare components of the instrument.

Engineers from ESA, together with a team from HIFI, will be meeting on Monday to discuss the situation in detail and decide on any further action to be taken over the next few weeks.


Herschel, the biggest infrared space telescope, was launched on 14 May. The observatory is still in the performance verification phase. Routine operations are expected to begin at the end of November.

HIFI, a high resolution spectrometer was designed and built by a nationally-funded consortium led by SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research (Groningen, the Netherlands). The consortium includes institutes from France, Germany, USA, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Taiwan.

Copyright 2000 - 2018 © European Space Agency. All rights reserved.