NASA Says Goodbye to One of Its Great Observatories

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NASA Says Goodbye to One of Its Great Observatories

Post by bystander » Fri Jan 17, 2020 6:54 pm

NASA Says Goodbye to One of Its Great Observatories
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Spitzer Space Telescope | 2020 Jan 15
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NASA will host a live program at 10 a.m. PST (1 p.m. EST) Wednesday, Jan. 22, to celebrate the far-reaching legacy of the agency's Spitzer Space Telescope - a mission that, after 16 years of amazing discoveries, soon will come to an end. ...

One of NASA's four Great Observatories, Spitzer launched on Aug. 25, 2003, and has studied the cosmos in infrared light. Its breathtaking images have revealed the beauty of the infrared universe.

Spitzer made some of the first studies of exoplanet atmospheres (atmospheres of planets around stars other than our Sun). It confirmed two and discovered five of the seven Earth-size exoplanets around the star TRAPPIST-1 – the largest batch of terrestrial planets ever found around a single star. On Thursday, Jan. 30, engineers will decommission the Spitzer spacecraft and bring this amazing mission to a close.
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NASA Celebrates the Legacy of Spitzer

Post by bystander » Wed Jan 22, 2020 7:58 pm

NASA Celebrates the Legacy of the Spitzer Space Telescope
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Spitzer Space Telescope | 2020 Jan 22
NASA is celebrating the legacy of one of its Great Observatories, the Spitzer Space Telescope, which has studied the universe in infrared light for more than 16 years. The Spitzer mission will come to a close on Jan. 30.

Launched in 2003, Spitzer revealed previously hidden features of known cosmic objects and led to discoveries and insights spanning from our own solar system to nearly the edge of the universe. ...

Spitzer was designed to study "the cold, the old and the dusty," three things astronomers can observe particularly well in infrared light. Infrared light refers to a range of wavelengths on the infrared spectrum, from those measuring about 700 nanometers (too small to see with the naked eye) to about 1 millimeter (about the size of the head of a pin). Different infrared wavelengths can reveal different features of the universe. For example, Spitzer can see things too cold to emit much visible light, including exoplanets (planets outside our solar system), brown dwarfs and cold matter found in the space between stars. ...

Spitzer Space Telescope Mission Overview and Press Kit
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Re: NASA Says Goodbye to One of Its Great Observatories

Post by neufer » Wed Jan 22, 2020 11:35 pm

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Art Neuendorffer

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How JWST Will Continue Spitzer's Legacy

Post by bystander » Thu Jan 23, 2020 3:39 pm

How NASA's Webb Telescope Will Continue Spitzer's Legacy
NASA | JPL-Caltech | JWST | 2020 Jan 22

While the Spitzer Space Telescope is headed for retirement, many of its breakthroughs will be studied more precisely with NASA's forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope.

As one window to the universe closes, another will open with an even better view. Some of the same planets, stars and galaxies we first saw through the first window will appear in even sharper detail in the one that will soon open.

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope concludes its mission on Jan. 30, 2020, after more than 16 extraordinary years of exploration. The telescope has made many discoveries beyond the imaginations of its designers, such as planets outside our solar system, called exoplanets, and galaxies that formed close to the beginning of the universe. Many of Spitzer's breakthroughs will be studied more precisely with the forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope, which is expected to launch in 2021. ...

Both Webb and Spitzer are specialized for infrared light, which is invisible to human eyes. But with its giant gold-coated beryllium mirror and nine new technologies, Webb is about 1,000 times more powerful. The forthcoming telescope will be able to push Spitzer's science findings to new frontiers, from identifying chemicals in exoplanet atmospheres to locating some of the first galaxies to form after the Big Bang.

Beyond its discoveries, Spitzer is also a pathfinder for Webb in terms of how to operate a telescope of this kind. In order to measure infrared light with high sensitivity, a telescope must be very cold. Spitzer has shown engineers how an infrared observatory behaves in the vastness of space and what temperatures mission planners should expect to grapple with for Webb. ...
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Tarantula Nebula Spins Web of Mystery

Post by bystander » Wed Jan 29, 2020 5:35 pm

Tarantula Nebula Spins Web of Mystery
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Spitzer Space Telescope | 2020 Jan 27
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This image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Tarantula Nebula in
infrared light. The supernova 1987A and the starburst region R136 are noted. The
magenta-colored regions are primarily interstellar dust that is similar in composition
to ash from coal or wood fires on Earth. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Tarantula Nebula, seen in this image by the Spitzer Space Telescope, was one of the first targets studied by the infrared observatory after its launch in 2003, and the telescope has revisited it many times since. Now that Spitzer is set to be retired on Jan. 30, 2020, scientists have generated a new view of the nebula from Spitzer data. ...

Located in the Large Magellanic Cloud — a dwarf galaxy gravitationally bound to our Milky Way galaxy — the Tarantula Nebula is a hotbed of star formation. In the case of the Large Magellanic Cloud, such studies have helped scientists learn about rates of star formation in galaxies other than the Milky Way.

The nebula also hosts R136, a "starburst" region, where massive stars form in extremely close proximity and at a rate far higher than in the rest of the galaxy. Within R136, in an area less than 1 light-year across (about 6 trillion miles, or 9 trillion kilometers), there are more than 40 massive stars, each containing at least 50 times the mass of our Sun. By contrast, there are no stars at all within 1 light-year of our Sun. Similar starburst regions have been found in other galaxies, containing dozens of massive stars — a higher number of massive stars than what is typically found in the rest of their host galaxies. How these starburst regions arise remains a mystery.

On the outskirts of the Tarantula Nebula, you can also find one of astronomy's most-studied stars that has exploded in a supernova. Dubbed 1987A because it was the first supernova spotted in 1987, the exploded star burned with the power of 100 million Suns for months. The shockwave from that event continues to move outward into space, encountering material ejected from the star during its dramatic death. ...
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Spitzer Ends Mission of Astronomical Discovery

Post by bystander » Fri Jan 31, 2020 5:38 pm

Spitzer Ends Mission of Astronomical Discovery
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Spitzer Space Telescope | 2020 Jan 30

For more than 16 years, the infrared observatory revealed new wonders in our solar system, our galaxy and beyond. Its legacy lays the groundwork for future infrared explorers.

After more than 16 years studying the universe in infrared light, revealing new wonders in our solar system, our galaxy, and beyond, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope's mission has come to an end.

Mission engineers confirmed at 2:30 p.m. PST (5:30 p.m. EST) Thursday the spacecraft was placed in safe mode, ceasing all science operations. After the decommissioning was confirmed, Spitzer Project Manager Joseph Hunt declared the mission had officially ended.

Launched in 2003, Spitzer was one of NASA's four Great Observatories, along with the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory. The Great Observatories program demonstrated the power of using different wavelengths of light to create a fuller picture of the universe. ...

Spitzer's prime mission came to an end in 2009, when the telescope exhausted its supply of the liquid helium coolant necessary for operating two of its three instruments – the Infrared Spectrograph (IRS) and Multiband Imaging Photometer for Spitzer (MIPS). The mission was deemed a success, having achieved all of its primary science objectives and more. But Spitzer's story wasn't over. Engineers and scientists were able to keep the mission going using only two out of four wavelength channels on the third instrument, the Infrared Array Camera (IRAC). Despite increasing engineering and operations challenges, Spitzer continued to produce transformational science for another 10 1/2 years – far longer than mission planners anticipated. ...

15 of Spitzer's Greatest Discoveries From 15 Years in Space

Astronomers Bid Farewell to Spitzer, NASA's Coldest Space Telescope
University of Arizona | 2020 Jan 30
Last edited by bystander on Sat Feb 01, 2020 4:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Added UA link
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor