Mission controllers fired Planck's thrusters to empty its fuel tanks - one of the final steps before the spent satellite can be "parked" in a safe orbit around the Sun, far away from the Earth and Moon, where it will stay for hundreds of years after it goes out of action tomorrow.
"The final step will be the simple act of switching off the transmitters: we will witness the silencing of Planck and we will never receive a signal from her again," ESA spacecraft operations manager
The procedure to put Planck in a "permanently safe configuration" is similar to that employed for its sister satellite, Herschel, earlier this year.
Launched together in
Named after the 20th-century German physicist
In March, ESA unveiled a 50 million pixel, all-sky snapshot of radiation left over from the Big Bang, compiled from data gathered by the orbiter.
"This is a giant leap in our understanding of the origins of the universe," ESA director-general
The data showed the universe to be expanding at a slower rate than previously thought, which required adjusting its age to 13.82 billion years.
To take its measurements, the 4.2m by 4.2m Planck satellite's detectors had to be cooled to near absolute zero|(-273.15°C).
It was capable of measuring temperature variations of a few millionths of a degree.
Planck was designed to carry out two full-sky surveys over a period of 15 months, but instead observed the sky for more than 30 months and completed five surveys.
All science operations came to an end on
Switch-off will be marked by a small ceremony tomorrow, with project scientist
"Our business is keeping missions alive and productive, so sending a shut-down command is very difficult," added
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