Spitzer Space Telescope images of Messier objects

[Spitzer Space Telescope] The Spitzer Space Telescope (SST), formerly known as Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF), is the last in a NASA series of four large orbiting observatories. While SST is observing photons in the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO) was observing in the Gamma ray light, the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) in visible light, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory (CXO) in the X-ray part of the spectrum.

The Spitzer Space Telescope consists of a 85-centimeter telescope and three cryogenically-cooled science instruments, and thus is the largest infrared telescope ever launched into space. To obtain good IR observations, the telescope must be protected from external IR radiation, or heat, and is cooled close to absolute zero, 0 Kelvin, or -273 degrees Celsius, or -459 degrees Fahrenheit, and is protected by a solar shield.

Spitzer was launched by a Delta rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida on August 25, 2003, into an Earth-trailing solar orbit. This unique orbit places Spitzer far enough from Earth and its IR or heat radiation to reduce the need of cryogen coolant.

The following images were obtained by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope satellite. For more Spitzer images, see CalTech's Spitzer site, in particular their Picture Gallery.

More on the Spitzer Space Telescope:

Hartmut Frommert
Christine Kronberg

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Last Modification: October 26, 2006