Planck Deep Space Telescope Receives Its Final Command

The Planck telescope is a deep space scientific instrument that has been in use for four a half years. During the telescope's mission, it was able to determine that the universe is about 80 million years older than scientists previously thought. The telescope also made some other interesting discoveries such as spotting an 80,000,000°C gas bridge between star clusters Abell 399 and Abell 401.

The European space agency switched off the Planck telescope on October 8 when mission controllers sent the craft its final command. The retired Planck telescope is being parked in a safe orbit around the sun where it will remain orbiting for hundreds of years. Over the last few weeks the spacecraft has been preparing for its eternal slumber by burning up all of its remaining fuel.

The fuel had to be burned up before the transmitter could be switched off. The European Space Agency calls the procedure "permanently safe configuration." The Planck space telescope was equipped with a telescope designed to measure the temperature of Cosmic Microwave Background emissions.

The powerful scientific instrument is capable of measuring temperature variations as small as a few millionths of a degree. The space telescope was originally designed to carry out two full sky surveys over 15 months, but ended up lasting more than 30 months and completing five surveys using both of its available measuring instruments. The telescope itself may be decommissioned, but scientists are still analyzing the wealth of data provided during its mission.