This week marks the 10th anniversary of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Spitzer has been capturing incredible images of the universe to help scientists learn more about it, as well as providing beautiful, awe-inspiring images for the rest of us.
The telescope was launched on August 25, 2003, and has been following the Earth in its orbit around the sun ever since. The space telescope takes advantage of infrared wavelengths to capture deep-space scenes previously unseen by human eyes. During the beginning years of the telescope’s mission, it used the longest infrared wavelengths, which demanded cooling the telescope’s delicate instruments to very low temperatures (just above absolute zero). Liquid helium coolant was used for this, and when it ran out, the space telescope began to use shorter infrared wavelengths to observe objects closer to Earth.
Embedded is an image gallery of just a very few of the incredible images Spitzer has provided for scientific research, and for our utter enjoyment, over the years. Wired Science has more.
I think it’s worth contemplating that by learning more about other parts of the universe in this way, we may come to know and appreciate more about our own planet and place in the universe.