Scientists at the European Space Agency decommissioned the Herschel Space Observatory on Monday, allowing the spacecraft to expel its remaining fuel and deplete its supply of cryogenic helium, which it used to explore heat signatures in the universe using infrared instruments. The telescope operated for four years, made 35,000 science observations and collected more than 25,000 hours of data that scientists will analyze over the next several years. "It's like saying goodbye to a friend," said Herschel operations manager Micha Schmidt.

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