Spitzer Space Telescope is celebrating 10 years in orbit. During the past decade, it's shown us beautiful images of comets and asteroids, stars and planets.
Explosions of bright color illuminated by space’s dark black background. Those are the beautiful images the Spitzer Space Telescope has shown us, of comets and asteroids, stars and planets. It’s celebrating 10 years in orbit.
The scope has been lauded for its many discoveries, including the largest ring of Saturn. “The enormous ring, a wispy band of ice and dust particles, is very faint in visible light, but Spitzer’s infrared detectors were able to pick up the glow from its heat,” NASA wrote in a news release. Spitzer also spotted light beyond our solar system — something it wasn’t originally built to do.
Spitzer was initially called the Space Infrared Telescope Facility, but got renamed after launch for the father of space telescopes, an astronomer named Lyman Spitzer (not for the other Spitzer who likely comes to mind).
Even as NASA celebrates the first decade with this scope, it has big plans for the next 10 years. “Moving into its second decade of scientific scouting from an Earth-trailing orbit,” NASA stated, “Spitzer continues to explore the cosmos near and far. One additional task is helping NASA observe potential candidates for a developing mission to capture, redirect and explore a near-Earth asteroid.” (You’ve probably heard that NASA is trying to lasso an asteroid, a directive from the Obama administration.) It will evaluate the first asteroid candidate this coming October, 2013.