Spitzer Space Telescope

Artist Rendition of Spitzer Space Telescope

  • go site Mass at Launch: 950 kg or 2 094 lb
  • can i buy prednisolone over the counter in uk Launch date: 25 August 2003, 05:35:39 UTC
  • http://newemangelization.com/about/ Rocket: Delta II 7920H
  • Rocket Launch Site: Cape Canaveral SLC-17B
  • Orbit: Earth-trailing Heliocentric
  • Orbital Distance: 1.003 – 1.026 AU
  • Orbital Period: 373.2 days
  • Diameter of Main Telescope: 0.85 m or 2.8 ft
  • Focal Length: 10.2 m or 33 ft
  • Focal Ratio: f/12
  • Operators: NASA, JPL, Caltech
  • Satellite Catalogue Number (SATCAT): 27871
  • International Designation (COSPAR ID): 2003-038A
  • Manufacturer: Lockheed, Ball Aerospace
  • Instruments:
    • Infrared Array Camera (IRAC)
    • Infrared Spectrograph (IRS)
    • Multiband Imaging Photometer for Spitzer (MIPS)

About Spitzer Space Telescope

Spitzer Space Telescope belongs to a family of four Space-based telescopes: Hubble Space Telescope (HST), Chandra X-Ray Observatory (CXO) and Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory (CGRO). All the telescopes in the family are observing Universe in different wavelengths and Spitzer is designed to see Universe in  infrared radiation.

For Spitzer to work it needs to have two extreme temperatures inside it. In Cryogenic Telescope Assembly is just few degrees above absolute zero, that being -273°C or -459°F. Cryogenic Telescope Assembly gets its name from the way it is cooled to such temperature, cryogen or liquid helium is used to cool it down to few degrees above absolute zero.

Spitzer operation

The cryogen tank was designed to cool instruments for at least 2.5 years but it lasted more then 5.5 years, it strayed in cold  phase twice as long then expected. The “Worm mission” began on 15 May 2009 when liquid helium was depleted completely.


Spitzer was the first telescope to directly detect light form outside of our Solar System of a planet, so called exoplanet. This allowed study and comparison of extrasolar planets such as temperature, winds and atmospheric composition.

Other methods to detect Exoplanet

Before Spitzer all exoplanets were detected indirectly, mainly by “wobble” technique and just later one by “transit” method. The wobble method is based on gravitational tug of planet on its host star, then the star wobbles slightly.Transit technique is based on the change of stars light when the planet orbits it, when looked from Earth if the planet gets between us and its host star then the planet will block some of the stars light and the star will look slightly dimmer.

Direct observation

To detect the planet around the star Spitzer uses so-called total infrared light, both the star and planet. “Hot Jupiter” is a gas giant zipping closely around its parent star, Spitzer collects infrared light form both of then, after some time when the planet dips behind the star it measures infrared again, this time just from the star. After having both measurements it is possible to pinpoint exact infrared light of the planet.

Diagram showing how Spitzer detects exoplanets


Reference list:

NASA – Spitzer Space Telescope

Jet Propulsion Laboratory – Spitzer Space Telescope

Wikipedia – Spitzer Space Telescope