The Spitzer Space Telescope, originally known as the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF), was an infrared space telescope launched by NASA in 2003. It was part of NASA’s Great Observatories program, which also includes the Hubble Space Telescope, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Key Points about the SIRTF/Spitzer Mission:

1. Launch and Orbit:

Launch Date: August 25, 2003.

Launch Vehicle: Delta II rocket.

Orbit: Spitzer operated in an Earth-trailing solar orbit, gradually moving away from Earth over time.

2. Mission Objectives:

• To study the universe in the infrared spectrum, which is particularly useful for observing objects obscured by dust, such as star-forming regions, the centers of galaxies, and newly forming planetary systems.

• To provide detailed information on the formation and evolution of galaxies, stars, and planetary systems.

3. Instruments:

Infrared Array Camera (IRAC): Provided high-resolution imaging in near and mid-infrared wavelengths.

Multiband Imaging Photometer for Spitzer (MIPS): Measured far-infrared wavelengths to study the emission from dust and cool objects.

Infrared Spectrograph (IRS): Provided spectroscopy in the mid-infrared to analyze the composition and properties of astronomical objects.

4. Scientific Achievements:

Exoplanetary Studies: Spitzer was crucial in the discovery and study of exoplanets, including the detection of atmospheres and the characterization of their compositions.

Star Formation: Provided detailed images of star-forming regions, helping to understand the processes involved in the birth of stars.

Galactic and Extragalactic Astronomy: Spitzer’s observations helped to study the structure and evolution of galaxies, both in the local universe and at high redshifts.

Dust and Debris Disks: The telescope was instrumental in studying the dust and debris around stars, shedding light on the formation of planetary systems.

5. Mission Duration:

Cryogenic Mission: Spitzer’s primary mission lasted until May 15, 2009, when its liquid helium coolant was depleted. During this phase, all instruments operated at peak sensitivity.

Warm Mission: After the depletion of the coolant, Spitzer continued to operate in a “warm” phase, using two of its four instruments (IRAC) for observations until its retirement.

6. End of Mission:

• The Spitzer Space Telescope was officially retired on January 30, 2020, after more than 16 years of successful operation, far exceeding its planned 2.5-year primary mission.

Spitzer’s legacy continues as its data remains a valuable resource for astronomers, and its discoveries have paved the way for future infrared space telescopes, such as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

My Contribution

I supported SIRTF in 1999 and visited Sunnyvale during internet bubble. It was “supposed to be ” a more or less a reuse of Mars98 baseline.

flowchart subgraph SGI SIM subgraph VME VME5565_1 end SIM <–> |”mmap”| VME5565_1 end subgraph VME1 subgraph MVME162 vxWorks end DIO ADC DAC MS1553 RS422 VME5565_2 end VME5565_2 <–> |”Fiber 170 Mbyte/s “| VME5565_1

BUT, they put their VME cards directly in the Origin 2000.

flowchart LR subgraph SGI SIM subgraph VME DIO ADC DAC MS1553 RS422 end SIM <–> VME end


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *