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Spitzer Space Telescope
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Spitzer Space Telescope Mission to Our Solar System

Goals: The Spitzer Space Telescope is an orbiting observatory that uses infrared technology to study celestial objects that are either too cool, too dust-enshrouded or too far away to be seen otherwise. After depleting its instrument coolant as planned during its 5 1/2-year primary mission, Spitzer was recalibrated to continue studying the cosmos at warmer temperatures.

Accomplishments: Spitzer was the first telescope to detect light from an exoplanet -- a planet orbiting a distant star. The telescope's infrared instruments were also able to split the exoplanets' light into various wavelengths, revealing information about the distant worlds' atmospheres. Spitzer also was able to pinpoint hundreds of distant black holes previously shrouded in dust and capture a stunning portrait of the center of our galaxy.

Key Dates
25 Aug 2003:  Launch (01:35:39 EDT)
15 May 2009:  Extended Mission Begins
Status: Extended Mission in Progress
Fast Facts
Spitzer Facts Spitzer was the last of NASA's Great Observatories, which included Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory and the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory.

Instead of orbiting Earth like other space telescopes, Spitzer tagged along behind Earth as it orbits our Sun. This keeps it clear of Earth's heat and makes for better pictures.

Spizer saw every part of the sky at least every six months during its 5 1/2-year primary mission..
Science & Technology Features
People Spotlight
Michelle Thaller Michelle Thaller
"Being an astronomer is very much about being comfortable with thinking on your feet and coming up with compelling arguments on the fly." Read More...
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Last Updated: 1 Dec 2010