Sunday marks the ten-year anniversary of the launch of NASA‘s Spitzer Space Telescope. NASA today commemorated the milestone by taking a look back at all the discoveries Spitzer has been integral in this past decade.
“I always knew Spitzer would work, but I had no idea that it would be as productive, exciting and long-lived as it has been,” said Spitzer Michael Werner, project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “The spectacular images that it continues to return, and its cutting-edge science, go far beyond anything we could have imagined when we started on this journey more than 30 years ago.”
Spitzer, as an infrared telescope, can observe the furthest objects yet detected. Throughout its career, Spitzer has found the most distant galaxies ever seen, helped accurately measure the Hubble constant, shined light on the universe’s infrared background glow, and discovered weather patterns on brown dwarf stars.
The Spitzer telescope, much like the recently recommissioned WISE telescope, is now searching for near-Earth asteroids. While WISE will focus on finding potentially deadly asteroids, Spitzer will be helping NASA narrow down candidates for its plan to capture an asteroid in orbit around the moon for observation.
“President Obama’s goal of visiting an asteroid by 2025 combines NASA’s diverse talents in a unified endeavor,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for science at NASA. “Using Spitzer to help us characterize asteroids and potential targets for an asteroid mission advances both science and exploration.”
(Image courtesy NASA)