NASA’S Spitzer Space Telescope has sumptuously unraveled mysteries of the vast dimensions of space and has unveiled the far-fetched secrets of the infinite expanse. From once being the treasure of determining the exquisite universe to now being a legend in the ultimate discoveries of cosmos, Spitzer still stands strong even after being planned to be switched off permanently on 30th January 2020. So let’s start the journey and know a little about this magnificent telescope.
The Spitzer Space Telescope, one of NASA’s whacking maneuver, is a part of NASA’s great observatories programs (constituted of four specific satellites) and was formerly named as the space infrared telescope facility, is an infrared telescope launched in the year 2003, August 25 from Air Force Base, Cape Canaveral, Florida to serve the purpose of observing and studying objects deep within the solar system and beyond. The great observatories were setup to explore the elements of universe into different wavelengths of light e.g. The Hubble space telescope, Chandra x-ray observatory, Compton gamma observatory out of which Spitzer space telescope is to witness the universe in infrared radiation.
For years, scientist tried measuring the immeasurable space by putting telescope above the atmosphere to evaluate in depth and have a closer examination of the so called hidden universe in infrared radiation, the form of radiant energy invisible to the human eye. By the early 1970s, scientist concluded of placing an infrared telescope to earth’s obscured atmosphere. In 1983 the launch of Infrared Astronomical Satellite conducted the first infrared survey of the sky paving way to improved infrared detectors and future missions. It was procured and made successful in the year 2003 when brilliancies came up with the most sensitive infrared space observatory ever launched.
The name Spitzer was in honor of Lyman Spitzer Jr., a renowned theoretical astrophysicist, astronomer and mountaineer, awarded for inventing the stellarator plasma device, carrying out research on star formation and plasma. Spitzer was also the first person to suggest the idea of installing a large telescope in space which in response laid back the foundation of the development of Hubble space telescope.
The Spitzer space telescope not only changed the era of observational astronomy but also brought up a revolution in the field of science. The universe constantly emits bundles of information most of which we fail to understand and receive. In space any particle having a temperature of above zero kelvin (-459.67 degrees F to -273.15 degrees C) radiates out as infrared and could not be deciphered by us, as we lacked resources to detect these radiation. Having Spitzer telescope proved to be an advantage to modern science. “Spitzer’s highly sensitive instruments allow scientists to peer into cosmic regions that are hidden from optical telescopes, including dusty stellar nurseries, the centers of galaxies, and newly forming planetary systems,” NASA wrote on the Spitzer website.
“In its 15 years of operations, Spitzer has opened our eyes to new ways of viewing the universe,” said Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Spitzer followed a heliocentric orbit rather than a geocentric orbit, trailing away from the orbit of the Earth into space. The satellite consists of a reflector telescope having the diameter of 85 centimeters, made out of beryllium. The Spitzer telescope constitutes of three instruments to perform photometry, spectrometry, and spectrophotometry. Spitzer’s primary mission lasted 5.5 years after which NASA decided to shut it down in 2020. The spritzer space telescope had profoundly made numerous discoveries in the field of astronomy. It was the first observatory to detect direct light coming from exoplanets, it also made its contribution in finding out the new rings of Saturn and found out the planets of Trappist 1 system. Though it was decided that the telescope would be working for 2.5 years only but it worked enormously till 17 years of which the replacement will be the James Webb telescope yet to be launched in the year 2021.
After making a history, Spritzer space telescope was permanently shut down by NASA on January 30th but it still will play a major role in revealing the truths of the cosmos for more than a decade.