In pictures: Images from the Herschel space observatory


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The Independent Online

Europe's leading space observatory has ended its mission to photograph the infrared universe after its telescope reached the end of its lifespan.

The European Space Agency announced that the Herschel observatory had run out of the liquid Helium needed to keep its instruments at a low temperature to allow it to function.

The end of the mission comes as no surprise to astronomers who were always aware that there was a time limit on how long the helium would last. At the start of the project the Herschel observatory had around 23,000 litres of liquid helium but over time this evaporated. 

Herschel was launched into space in 2009 to chart the infrared universe and was the most powerful observatory of its kind. During the mission Herschel recorded over 35,000 scientific observations and countless hours worth of data.

Click here or on 'view gallery' to see a selection of images from the observatory